“Mapping the “Nation from Nowhere”: Imperial Knowledge and the Challenges of Decolonisation” was the title of a lecture given by Mykola Riabchuk, a leading researcher at the Department of Political Culture and Ideology of our Institute, PhD in Political Science, on 11 September at the University of Ghent (Belgium).
He draw his arguments on the concept of “Imperial Knowledge”, understood as a system of state-sponsored narratives that pursue a two-fold goal: glorification of the empire, its supposedly great, ‘universal’ culture and ‘unique’ historical role, and – depreciation, marginalization or sheer appropriation of cultures of subordinate nations, monopolization of a God-given (or History-given) right to speak on their behalf and mediate between them and the world – thus silencing them and making completely invisible.
That “knowledge”, conceived in Russia in the 18th century, has been developed, institutionalized and disseminated globally as presumably ‘scientific truth’. Still worse, it completely excluded the alternative voices, in particular voices of subjugated nations, from the public debate. All this made the Imperial Knowledge a root cause of many eventual problems, including a centuries-long international misperception of Russia, ignorance of Ukraine, and disastrously wrong Western policies vis-à-vis both countries and the entire Eastern Europe. The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, framed as a blatant attempt at a neo-imperial conquest, makes the task of revision and deconstruction of Imperial Knowledge highly urgent and topical – as a part of a much broader decolonization agenda.