April 7, 2023 Conference

New Literary Observer Presents the 29th Bath Readings International Annual Conference: Non-Imperial Russia: Images, Concepts, Practices

Is a Non-Imperial Russia possible? What pivot points can there be today in overcoming the imperial consciousness? While various disputes about the specifics of the imperial nature of Russia in a comparative perspective and the imperial history of Russia are undergoing constant revisions, the reconstruction of the imperial history of Russia suggests a completely different view of our history.

What was pre-revolutionary and Soviet anti-imperial thought? Which cultural and philosophical
trends formed the modern ideas of Russian intellectuals on the decentralized structure of the state?
When did the question get raised and who raised the question about the federalization of the Russian
Empire? How did movements for autonomy for peoples subject to Russia resist official nationbuilding? How were the struggles of original cultures for independence from cultural metropolises
of Russia carried out? How did the official imperial narrative relate to non-imperial cultural

In terms of the request for an anti-imperial vision, we do not have prepared answers for these
questions. But we are ready to start thinking and discussing about which model (or models) we
could put forth as an alternative imperial image of Russia. Can the 300 years of imperial Russia be
considered a uniform linear history? Was it a homogenous space, or did imperial and non-imperial
movements of social organization compete with one another? Where did the boundary lie between
the imperial and the non-imperial in Russian culture? How much did different social and political
groups search for a different, non-imperial national identity? What have been the alternative, and
sometimes unpredictable, patterns and practices that have had a place in our history, and what traces
have they left behind for our present? What do Western and Russian Slavic studies have to offer on
this topic today?

We invite our speakers to reconstruct an alternative, non-imperial history of Russia within the
framework of conditional triad:
1) State institutions (ideas about alternative social structures in Russia; academic programs and
educational practices; governmental attempts to overcome or humanize imperialism; different kinds
of reforms, decrees, conspiracies of the elite, etc.).
2) Alternative models of public life (grassroots organizations and movements that contribute to the
formation of a non-imperial consciousness; the everyday as an area of non-imperial existence; etc.).
3) Cultural intellectual reflection (public discussions and theories that develop non-imperial motifs
of national self-consciousness; artistic practices and visual images of non-imperialism; noncanonical narratives in literature; etc.).

The conference will take place from 7-9 April 2023 and can be accessed on YouTube. The programme can be viewed under “download event info”.