On February 8, Dr. Mykola Riabchuk, a Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Political Culture and Ideology, delivered the keynote lecture at the opening of the international conference “Russia’s War against Ukraine and the Crisis in Eurasia-Challenges for the Humanities” in Sapporo, at the Slavic Research Center of the Hokkaido University.
In his presentation, titled “Mapping a “Nowhere Nation”: Imperial Knowledge and Challenges of Decolonization”, he explored the reasons of Ukraine’s long-time invisibility and de-facto absence on the mental maps of international scholars, politicians and general public. This ignorance, according to the Ukrainian scholar, largely resulted from the specific policies of the Russian (and eventually Soviet) empire aimed at silencing and marginalization of subjugated nations, particularly Ukraine.
A set of peculiar narratives (“imperial knowledge”) about itself and its colonies was developed by the empire, in order to legitimize its dominance both domestically and internationally. The uncritical acceptance of these narratives largely facilitated today’s Russian aggression against Ukraine and prevented effective and timely responses to it at the earlier stages. Deconstruction of these narratives, the speaker argued, is a primary task of intellectual community in its pursuit of the de-colonial agenda.