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Ideology in the Service of Empire

The Intellectual Foundations of Putinism
The workshop aims to re-examine the question of the ideational foundations of Putinism, contributing to a critical reconstruction of the regime's intellectual genealogy.

As Russia has descended ever deeper into authoritarianism during the two decades of Vladimir Putin's rule, debates have raged in the academic and larger intellectual communities about the ideational underpinnings that informed and continue to inform his policies. Some have argued that Putinism is nothing more than an agile ensemble of ad hoc ideological improvisations covering a field of purely pragmatic tactics. Others have pointed to what they see as significant and coherent ideational influences discernible in Putin's rhetoric and policy decisions. At various times, Putin has publicly referenced thinkers such as Ivan Ilyin, Lev Gumilev, and Nikolai Berdyaev, who are known for their conservative views.
At the same time, the media have on many occasions attempted to "appoint" a philosophical mastermind behind Putin's worldview, the most frequently cited candidate being Aleksandr Dugin and other neo-Eurasianists. Carl Schmitt is said to have inspired the thinking of early Putinist guru Vladislav Surkov and his doctrine of "sovereign democracy," while more recent revelations suggest a broad adherence to the late Soviet school of "methodology" within Putin's apparatus. Bringing together a diverse group of leading scholars of Russian thought and the Putin regime at a moment of Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine and the culture wars it has fueled, the workshop aims to re-examine the question of the ideational foundations of Putinism, contributing to a critical reconstruction of the regime's intellectual genealogy.

This intensive two-day workshop is organised by the Center for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES) at Södertörn University in Stockholm.

Day 1 (27 May, 2024)

9:00 – 9:30 Refreshments, opening
Statement of welcome from Peter Hedström (Director, The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies)

9:30 – 11:00 Panel One: Influences and Genealogies
Moderator: Mark Bassin

  • Denys Kiryukhin (Lund University) Putin and Schmitt: Debunking a Misconception
  • Dmitrii Dorogov (Södertörn University) Ironic Empire: Gleb Pavlovsky, Technologization of Politics, and the Birth of Putinism

Coffee break: 15 mins

11:15 – 12:45 Panel Two: Ideological Structures
Moderator: Juliette Faure

  • Jules Sergei Fediunin (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) Putin’s Official Nationalism: Instrument or Ideology?
  • Neil Robinson (University of Limerick) Triumph of the Will? Putin, Ideology and Political Order in Russia

12:45 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 15:30 Panel Three: Foreign Policy
Moderator: Mikhail Suslov

  • David Lewis (University of Exeter, online via Zoom) The Role of Ideology in Russian Foreign Policy
  • Alexander Iskandaryan (Caucasus Institute, Yerevan) Is it Really Imperialism?

Coffee break: 15 mins

15:45 – 17:15 Keynote lecture
Marlene Laruelle (George Washington University)
Attempting a Systemic Approach to Russia's Ideological Construction

18:00 Dinner (TBA)

Day 2 (28 May, 2024)

9:00 – 10:30 Panel Four: Economics of Putinism
Moderator: Dmitrii Dorogov

  • Mikhail Suslov (University of Copenhagen) “The Russian School of Economic Thought”: Putinist Alternative to Global Capitalism
  • Alexander Libman (Freie Universität Berlin, online via Zoom) Putinism and the Markets: How (and Why) Do They Fit Together?

Coffee break: 15 mins

10:45 – 12:15 Panel Five: Ukraine and Great Power Politics
Moderator: Marlene Laruelle

  • Juliette Faure (Paris 2/Sciences Po)
    What Role Did Ideology Play in Triggering Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine?
  • Anatoly Reshetnikov (Webster University, Vienna) Chasing Greatness: Towards a Genealogy of Discursive Foundations of Putinism

12:15 – 12:45 Closing remarks and discussion

13:00 Lunch

Time and place

27 May 2024, 09:00 - 28 May 2024, 13:00


MB505, find us


Arranged by

Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Södertörn University



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