Place: RANEPA, St. Petersburg

Date: 18-19 October 2017. 

N.B. This is a past event. We are no longer accepting applications for this workshop. The programme for this event is available here


The Interpretivism in International Relations (IIR) working group aims to encourage fresh thinking on the study of meanings, identities and ideas in international relations.

The location of this workshop, St. Petersburg, was famously described by Peter the Great as Russia’s “window on Europe”. We want to take this as a vantage point to discuss the role of ‘perspective’ in analysing the politics of identity in post-communist Europe and Russia.

The Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg

The Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg

Taking up insights from political theory, conceptual history, ethnography and other fields on the importance of perspective in shaping experience and knowledge, this workshop aims to explore the methods, benefits and limitations of taking a perspectivist approach for analysing international relations. Specifically, we want to probe what it means to take a perspective (or multiple perspectives), how this is done, and how it can explain conflicts and tensions in Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and between this region and the wider world.

Various political stakeholders in this region have turned to identity politics to legitimate their visions of a post-communist future. Paradoxically, this had led to the re-articulation of ideas that many thought belonged to the past. Yet today there is talk of a new East/West divide in international relations and ideas of great power status, honour and identity have resurfaced. Commitments to special roles and relationships between the countries in post-communist Europe and Russia are emphasised on the basis of cultural affinity and a right to lead.

Our workshop will look at these and other expressions post-communist political identity as sources of contestation, polemic, and conceptual innovation. We invite paper proposals that address the following and related topics on this broad theme:

  • Methodological approaches to the study of IR concepts and their use in arguments;

  • Construction of concepts in different international settings and contexts (textbooks; diplomatic summits; international organisations);

  • The analysis of concepts of national or supra-national collective identity;

  • Concepts of political thought in post-communist Europe and Russia that build bridges into IR and especially into the theories of identity formation;

  • Concepts of Russia’s identity and how these link to changes in Russia’s foreign policy;

  • Ideological movements in post-communist Europe and Russia (nationalism, patriotism, conservativism, and other ‘isms’) that focus on the politics of identity and especially the process of ‘othering’.

This workshop will bring together around 15 scholars and take place at the Department of Comparative Political Studies at RANEPA, St. Petersburg, starting on the morning of 18 October and ending in the afternoon of 19 October.