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CFP: Eurasia Decentered: Internal and External Souths from the Medieval Period to the Present
June 1, 2023

Call for Papers: Eurasia Decentered: Internal and External Souths from the Medieval Period to the Present

An interdisciplinary conference sponsored by the journal Kritika and the Harriman Institute of Columbia University, to be held at the Harriman Institute in New York City on April 19-20, 2024.

The conference Eurasia Decentered builds upon recent scholarship that casts the differences between the internal souths of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, on the one hand, and the external souths of India, Persia, China, the Ottoman Empire / Turkey, Latin America, and elsewhere, on the other, as both blurred and critical. Kritika editors are soliciting analyses that show the symbiotic nature of north-south relations through economic exchange, political modeling and rivalry, migration, and cultural forms. We seek to highlight the ways the north was transformed by its contacts with the tricontinental south. We intend for the conference to be multi-perspectival across space and time. For instance, how was the Russian Empire perceived from Tehran in 1829 or the Soviet Union from New Delhi in 1946? How did the Soviet Union theorize the existence of its internal south, which was sometimes imagined in racial terms, amid its support for anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia? We invite the consideration of experts in the histories of the medieval East Slavic states, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union, as well as scholars of the external south who engage these topics “from the other shore.”

Kritika editors are drawn to this topic by two related developments in the field of Imperial Russian and Soviet history. The first is the growing prominence of comparative, transnational, and trans-imperial approaches, which have situated histories of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union amid the global circulation of ideas, practices, peoples, and commodities. It bears emphasizing that transnational and comparative thinking and, more broadly, efforts to de-exoticize Russia and the Soviet Union have been part of Kritika’s agenda from its very first issue.

The second development is growing (albeit belated) interest in issues surrounding colonialism and de-colonization, race, and indigeneity. Even core questions—such as, whether the Soviet Union engaged in a colonial enterprise in its internal south, or whether race is a useful category of analysis in the Soviet “empire of nations”—elicit either no consensus among specialists and / or are at early stages of analysis. The editors of Kritika hope that Eurasia Decentered will help crystalize this new scholarship and suggest new avenues for research.

We anticipate inviting a group of 12 scholars to the conference. Participation is open to specialists of various levels of experience, from advanced doctoral students to senior scholars. All papers will be circulated beforehand; select articles will be published in a conference volume and/or a special issue of Kritika. We invite interested participants to apply to the conference by submitting a brief paper abstract (250–300 words) along with a short CV (maximum two pages), combined in a single PDF.

The Harriman Institute will cover travel costs and lodging for most participants, but funds are limited. We ask participants to apply where possible for funding from their home institutions. In your abstract, please indicate whether you will need financial support if accepted.

Please submit a PDF of your abstract and short CV to Kritika’s Special Topics Editor, Stephen Bittner, at by 1 October 2023.