Imperial rule in Eastern Europe

Aspects of imperial rule and colonial experience, such as the Russian invasion o
Aspects of imperial rule and colonial experience, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, will be discussed by participants at the conference at the University of Jena. Image: Jens Meyer (University of Jena)

Terms such as "decolonisation" and "imperial rule" have become buzzwords in political discourse. They are used by both sides-for example in the Russian invasion of Ukraine-to gain sovereignty of interpretation for themselves. The German Association for East European Studies (DGO) would like to discuss these terms in cooperation with the Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena.

Under the headline "Imperial rule and colonial experience in Eastern Europe", the DGO is hosting its annual conference at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. On March 21 and 22, high-ranking guests from science and art will shed light on the many facets of this topic. The conference in Lecture Hall 5 on the Ernst Abbe Campus (Carl-Zeiß-Straße 3) is open to the public and guests are welcome. The lectures will be simultaneously translated (DE-ENG/ENG-DE). Registration is requested.

Experiences of a Ukrainian writer

To kick off the annual conference, Ukrainian writer and Herder Prize winner Yuri Andrukhovych (Ivano-Frankivsk) will speak about the biographical and historical dimensions of imperial rule and colonial experience in his home country. "With the offer of professorship for decolonisation, states in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia want to emancipate themselves from post-Soviet and Russian-dominated interpretations of history and cultural imprints," says Gabriele Freitag, Managing Director of the DGO. At the same time, Russia declares its aggressive foreign policy as a liberation from the colonial dominance of Western states.

Yuri Andrukhovych’s lecture addresses this tense relationship. In the further course of the conference, various aspects of imperial rule and colonial experience will be discussed, as well as decolonisation as a political discourse. Speakers will include Maria Todorova (Illinois), Dan Diner ÜBerlin), Anna Veronika Wendland (Marburg) and Martin Schulze Wessel, who will draw a line through to the war in the Middle East.

Further relevance due to the war in the Middle East

"The war in the Middle East makes the entire debate even more topical," says Joachim von Puttkamer, Director of the Imre Kertész Kolleg. Although the decolonisation debate is older, it has taken on a new urgency as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The terrorist attack by Hamas and the discussion about Israel’s actions have now opened up an additional dimension.

In addition to the political debate, the conference will address the question of the extent to which post-colonial approaches can provide new insights into politics and society in Eastern Europe compared to empire research. Political scientist Andreas Heinemann-Grüder ÜBerlin), historian Botakoz Kassymbekova (Basel) and anthropologist Tsypylma Darieva ÜBerlin) will engage in an interdisciplinary dialogue on this topic.

The conference "Imperial Rule and Colonial Experience in Eastern Europe" will begin on Thursday, 21 March at 5.30 pm in Lecture Hall 5, Ernst-Abbe-Campus (Carl-Zeiß-Straße 3), with the awarding of the Klaus Mehnert Prize and the Karin Wolff Prize. On Friday, 22 March, the event will begin with a lecture by Maria Todorova from the University of Illinois. She will speak on "Imperial rule and colonial experience: Eastern Europe in a global context".