Nationalism and Imperialism in Russian Liberal Thought

Project leader

Susanna Rabow-Edling, Associate Professor

Project period

October 2013 - ongoing

Project description

The project concerns the relationship between liberalism, nationalism and imperialism in Russian political thought. It strives to show that both nationalism and imperialism were part of a liberal project and associated with the formation of a modern Russian state. Liberalism in Russia has very little public support and has become a peripheral phenomenon in the country’s political and social life. Russian liberals are regarded as unpatriotic and are accused of being agents of Western powers. In their place Russian conservatives have become increasingly influential. They have gained a monopoly on defining and expressing the Russian nation and have practically kidnapped the entire nation-building project, transforming it into a vicious form of ethnic nationalism. As this project will show, during the most influential periods in the history of Russian liberalism, nationalism, as well as imperialism, were in fact fundamental to the liberal project of forming a modern Russian state. In this sense Russian liberals were not different from liberals in the West who often promoted projects of nationalism and imperialism.

Project description

”Liberalism and nationalism in Russia. Boris Chicherin as a modernist nationalist,” Nations and Nationalism, 18, (4), 2012

“Liberal imperialism in early twentieth century Russia,” paper presented at the annual Aleksanteri Conference, 2015.