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Is the Post- in Postcolonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Toward a Global Postcolonial Critique

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


The enormous twenty-seven-nation post-Soviet sphere—including the former Soviet republics and the former “East Bloc” states—is virtually never discussed in the burgeoning discourse of postcolonial studies. Yet Russia and the successor Soviet Union exercised colonial control over the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Baltics, and Central and Eastern Europe for anywhere from fifty to two hundred years. The present essay interrogates the possible postcoloniality of the post-Soviet sphere, including Russia. The investigation is complicated by Russia's seeming Eurasian status and its history of perceived cultural inferiority to the West. A broad range of theoretical, historical, cultural, and geographic positions are examined, and figures such as Curzon, Conrad, Lermontov, and Shohat are addressed. In conclusion the essay argues against the current occidentocentric privileging of Western European colonization as the standard and proposes a fully global postcolonial critique. Overall, it critiques both too narrow post-Soviet studies and too parochial, too Anglo-Franco-focused postcolonial studies.

Talks from the Convention
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2001

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