Elif Batuman, Paata Shamugia (digital), Ewa Thompson (digital) and Oksana Zabuzhko, chaired by Charlotte Higgins

Colonial discourse in Russian literature: How we (mis)understood the 'Russian soul'

Russian imperialism, and how Russian writers have contributed to building the myth of the country is the topic of academic Ewa Thompson’s book Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism. Published in 2000, the year in which Vladamir Putin became president, the book and its topic hold even greater relevance now.

Thompson is joined by novelists Oksana Zabuzhko and Elif Batuman and poet Paata Shamugia to discuss why literary critics failed to see Russia as a colonial power, whether Russian imperialist discourse differs from colonial discourse in Western literary traditions, and the role Ukraine can have in helping people re-read Russian literature through a lens that takes the current conflict into account. The discussion is chaired by the Guardian’s chief culture writer Charlotte Higgins.

Paata Shamugia and Ewa Thompson will join remotely

Closed captions are available for this event in English and Spanish. Click on the "cc" icon in the video frame to select.

Open Society Foundations