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Interview with Dominika Koter

May 9, 2023

ASN interviews Dr. Koter about a role of ethnicity in shaping African politics and the robustness of national identity in African countries, an area of research often overshadowed by ethnic identity.

Interview with David Stroup

April 3, 2023

Can we (and should we) compare China to other countries when analyzing nationalism? David Stroup discusses his latest article “Chinese Nationalism: Insights and Opportunities for Comparative Studies” (Nationalities Papers, vol.51 #1)

Interview with Vladimir Đorđević, Mikhail Suslov, Marek Čejka, Ondřej Mocek and Martin Hrabálek

February 26, 2023

Interview with Vladimir Đorđević, Mikhail Suslov, Marek Čejka, Ondřej Mocek and Martin Hrabálek about their latest article in Nationalities Papers.

Interview with Vladimir Đorđević, Mikhail Suslov, Marek Čejka, Ondřej Mocek and Martin Hrabálek

ASN chatted with Vladimir Đorđević, Mikhail Suslov, Marek Čejka, Ondřej Mocek and Martin Hrabálek about their latest state-of-the-field article “Revisiting Pan-Slavism in the Contemporary Perspective” (Nationalities Papers vol. 51 #1) 

ASN: When, where, and how did the philosophy of Pan-Slavism originate? How has it evolved in the years since? 


  • Pan-Slavism evolved in the early 19th century, having become increasingly formulated in the 1830s and 1840s and having been politically influenced chiefly by Pan-Germanism that, as the authors such as Kohn claimed, saw the need for political unity that was supposed to represent the source of strength and international standing of, in this case, German(ic), nation(s). In addition, Pan-Germanism may have also influenced Pan-Slavism with respect to ideologically elevating and emphasizing cultural aspects that those nations that considered themselves Germans, in the case of Pan-Germanism, or Slavs, in the case of Pan-Slavism, shared. From the ideological point of view, Pan-Slavism had evolved by going through periods when it was virtually non-existent, to the periods when it was used and abused for (not only) political purposes by, above all, Russia in its foreign policy, to the periods when it mattered in several Slavic states in the chiefly cultural sense. Interestingly so, the first versions of the so-called “Austro-Slavism” (Pan-Slavism in the Habsburg Empire) reverberated rather well with the Slavic nations in the Empire, being their political instrument towards becoming ultimately free of the monarchy but at the same time striving not to be entrapped in becoming subjects of the Czarist regime in the then Imperial Russia.



ASN: Does Pan-Slavism resemble other pan-national identities (pan-African, pan-Asian), and can it be seen as a byproduct of or a reaction to an increasingly more global and transnational world? 


  • As already mentioned, Pan-Slavism was in part a reaction to other pan-nationalisms of the time, such as, above all, Pan-Germanism, which makes sense given the (political) position and relations between the Slavic and Germanic peoples in Europe at the time, and some other, at that time less influential, ideological movements, such as Pan-Arabism and Pan-Scandinavism. Today Pan-Slavism has, so to say, several faces, from the one of this ideology being (ab)used in Russian foreign policy, whereby Russia is, in its view, not only a leader of the Slavic world but a supposed defender of it as well, to the one emphasizing the cultural closeness of the Slavic nations, to the one claiming the necessity of cooperation between the Slavic countries on various grounds (such as between the Slavic states that are part of the EU), to, among others, the one stressing different civilizational traits, separating the “Slavic (Eastern) world” from the Western civilization.


ASN: Which countries have most recently seen a resurgence in Pan-Slavic discourses? What are the implications? 


  • In our forthcoming volume entitled Pan-Slavism and Slavophilia in Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe: Origins, Manifestations and Functions (Palgrave, February/March 2023), my co-editors, Mikhail Suslov, Marek Čejka, and I set off to examine the relevance of Pan-Slavism in its contemporary forms, asking our fellow authors to contribute on each of the Slavic countries (apart from Slovenia, where our initial investigation found that Pan-Slavism does not virtually play any (political and/or social) role). The result is the volume that claims that Pan-Slavism exists in different forms and to a different degree in different political, cultural, and social settings: while in Russia and Belarus it may still be used for (domestic and) foreign policy purposes to advance largely pro-Russian claims, in Bulgaria it feeds into identity issues, often found in that part of the political spectrum tagged as anti-globalist and anti-EU. In Montenegro, to continue with, Pan-Slavic ideas and agendas are delivered in Orthodox colors that some political actors (may) use to promote goals of the supposed brotherhood of Orthodox nations (in this case, of Montenegro and Russia). In the case of Poland, for that matter, Pan-Slavism played a more significant role in the 1990s, often equating with ideological stances that were primarily, but not exclusively, anti-Western. Ukraine, for that matter, represents a specific case, not only because several Pan-Slavic ideas used to “speak” nostalgically of the Soviet times (and hence of a once united country) but chiefly due to the ongoing Russian invasion that seems to have hijacked some Pan-Slavic ideas to claim that Russian engagement in Ukraine is not an invasion of a sovereign nation but a supposed “brotherly” help in getting rid of Nazism. To finish with, our authors also addressed the post-Yugoslav space, where Yugoslavism and Pan-Slavism communicated in a specific manner, allowing for quite a fruitful exchange regarding, among others, political projects of the Yugoslav nations, their identity vis-à-vis the ones of other Yugoslav countries, and similar.


ASN: Russia recently attempted to establish an Institute for the Protection of Historical Memory in Belgrade. What is the significance of this? 


  • This is nothing more than any Russian action of (not only) this and similar sorts but an attempt to solidify Russian influence in Serbia and the region, toying with the supposed Orthodox brotherhood agenda, the closeness of the two nations in terms of their anti-Western postures and supposed Russian interests in protecting Serbia before the “evil West.” Additionally, Russia has started flirting with the hazardous idea of presenting itself and Serbia as Second World War victors yet again “invited” to fight a good fight against the Nazis, those very Nazis who have supposedly resurrected and are currently occupying Ukraine. In my opinion, these illiberal narratives are very dangerous, for they not only decontextualize historical events as we know them, but they also attempt to rewrite history by abusing those bits and pieces that Kremlin finds suitable in the given moment. As expected, friction in the relations between Serbia and Russia from the historical point of view is never mentioned in the official discourse between the two. In contrast, episodes of good relations, even though several came to be in the period when both countries were part of the communist states of the USSR and Socialist Yugoslavia, are intentionally omitted. This is, therefore, a prime example of the abuse of history for the political purposes of the political elites in power (in both Russia and Serbia).


ASN: Does the war in Ukraine challenge the basic foundations of Pan-Slavism as an ideology and have you seen transformations in Pan-Slavic rhetoric in the past year? 


  • I do not think it alters the foundations of Pan-Slavism per se but rather shows the complexities and divisions of and within the Slavic world, on the one hand. On the other hand, it indicates how certain states, in this case, Russia that is pretending to be the leader of the Slavic world, have come to abuse the logic of Pan-Slavism, combining it with all sorts of its own (imperial) narratives to show its supposed “right” to act in Ukraine/the Slavic world in an allegedly necessary manner, both correct and just from the point of view of Kremlin. In that respect, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has revealed that Moscow would use any means necessary, which means Pan-Slavic narratives and agendas, to justify its actions, twisting, though not necessarily changing it altogether, the logic of Pan-Slavism along the way. Indeed, the most significant changes to the foundations of Pan-Slavism have had to occur in Ukraine, where even those Pan-Slavists that until recently may have seen Russia as their “brotherly nation” have been faced with the harsh reality of the ongoing invasion. I am, nevertheless, sure that there will always be those (not only) in the Slavic states who would remain staunch supporters of Russian actions (and acts of aggression), paradoxically thinking of the Kremlin as their ultimate ally.


ASN: What are the biggest misconceptions that Western scholars have about Pan-Slavism, and why does it remain understudied in the West?


  • I believe that the very fact that the scholarship in the English language on the topic at hand is limited shows not only disinterest in this topic but also the fact that many scholars may think that Pan-Slavism is somewhat an obsolete matter, making them assume that it has stopped playing any role in political and social life in the Slavic world, therefore not being important to investigate. Additionally, some scholars do not assume a more open-minded approach, ideologically approaching Pan-Slavism by a priori equating it with solely (pro)Russian attitudes, its foreign policy (that Pan-Slavism has indeed been abused by and for), as well as the fact that to a differing degree, Pan-Slavism has fared in nationalist politics of those Slavic countries that have had an antagonistic relationship with the West (for instance, Serbia). Lastly, there are those researchers who are limited by language, as the bulk of the scholarship on Pan-Slavism has been produced in East and South Slavic languages, with only some having been done in German, making one significant part of the knowledge on the topic inaccessible to those who do not speak the said languages. This is the reason to approach the issue more innovatively. We hope that our articles published in the Canadian-American Slavic Studies (2021) and the Nationalities Papers (2022), as well as the upcoming volume with Palgrave (2023), respectively, will help researchers discover more of Pan-Slavism, possibly collaborating with those who speak the languages that the most scholarship on the topic has been produced so far and thus making the field much more comprehensive than it is today.

    The article can be found at Đorđević, V., Suslov, M., Čejka, M., Mocek, O., & Hrabálek, M. (2023). Revisiting Pan-Slavism in the Contemporary Perspective. Nationalities Papers, 51(1), 3-13. doi:10.1017/nps.2022.75