On March 24, Dr. Mykola Riabchuk, a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Political Cultures and Ideology, delivered a keynote lecture (online) at the 4th Annual Taras Shevchenko Conference at Indiana University, Bloomington. His paper, entitled “Mapping a ‘Nowhere Nation’: Imperial Knowledge and Challenges of Decolonization”, drew on the concept of Imperial Knowledge as invoked by Ewa Thompson and defined as a system of narratives aimed at control and manipulation of subordinate nations.
That “knowledge”, conceived in the 18th century, has been developed, institutionalized and disseminated globally as presumably ‘scientific truth’. It was normalized and became therefore unquestionable; still worse, it completely excluded the alternative voices, in particular voices of subjugated nations, from the public debate as allegedly ‘deviant’ and ‘nationalistic’.
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 an attempt at a neo-imperial conquest, makes the detailed deconstruction of Imperial Knowledge and its various ideological-cum-political metastases highly urgent and topical – as an intellectual part of a much broader decolonization agenda.