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22 November 2019


The notion of the “post-Soviet” is subject to increasing doubts in academic circles today, whereas the “postcolonial” has gradually become a more popular and appropriate term for describing the problematic field of the former Soviet republics. Of course, the term needs to be further comprehended and refined. This paper will consider the differences between colonial policy and practice (and, therefore, post-colonial situations) in various regions of the Soviet Union: Russia, Eastern Europe (including the Baltic States), Central Asia, and the South Caucasus.

Many academics continue to discuss the difference between Soviet and Russian colonial policy and that of Western empires, but the time has come to focus on the internal differences. It has long been the case that the quantity of critical texts on postcommunist societies cannot be compared with that of postcolonial research papers. Of those only small proportion looks at the South Caucasus, and Armenia in particular. This points to the ambivalence of the situation and difficulties in applying postcolonial theories and methods to the histories and cultures of this region. Armenia can be probably be regarded as an exception among the post-Soviet countries in terms of ongoing Russian political, economic, and military influence. The only weak point is culture. For obvious reasons, Russian culture and language are no longer as popular as before. That said, Armenia has not yet produced languages for cultural and intellectual communication with the world without a (Russian, previously Soviet) mediator. And it is likely that Armenia, along with some other “former Soviet” countries, will choose to regionalize around Russia rather than integrating into the so-called international community or Europe. This potential development is very interesting as a means of analyzing the process from the perspective of postcolonial theory.



Hrach Bayadyan (b. 1957, Armenia) is a professor at Yerevan State University and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Yerevan. His academic interests in recent years have included the idea of “the nation,” forms of cultural resistance in Soviet-era Armenia, the development of consumer culture, and the transformation of public spaces in post-Soviet Armenia. He is currently working on a book titled Soviet Armenian Modernity. He lives and works in Yerevan.

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