Call for papers on Russia’s global language promotion

Call for papers

In collaboration with the International Political Science Organisation, ACCESS Europe, the Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies and the Migration and Inclusion in a Multilingual Europe (MIME) research group, the NEMESIS Jean Monnet Network is organising two panels at the conference “The Politics of Multilingualism” at the University of Amsterdam, 22-24 May 2017.

Both panels deal with

“Russia’s global language promotion: Between robust reassertion and soft securitisation”.

In the context of Russia’s current attempts at the economic and political re-integration of the post-Soviet space, geopolitical discourses stipulating Russia’s civilizational distinctiveness from the West play an important role. Russian culture and language, plus the latter’s historic role as a lingua franca in the region, are important arguments in such discourses. Since the mid-2000s, the Russian state channelled significant financial investment into the spread of Russian through language training and the dissemination of teaching materials.

Offering language courses and showcasing Russian culture is a legitimate cause, yet none of the new Russian organisations makes a secret of targeting their audience specifically in the ‘near abroad’ (the Russian term for the former Soviet republics) in the first place. In this area, the ascription of being a ‘Russian speaker’ has recently been instrumentalised to sustain Russian securitisation claims.

Outside the former Soviet space, Russian cultural institutions involved in the consolidation and
spread of the Russian language may in fact combine some of the functions of the former Soviet
‘friendship societies’ in cultural diplomacy. Against the backdrop of concerted Russian disinformation campaigns, the dissemination and sufficiently broad perception of Russian language media in countries of the former Soviet space or beyond (Germany, Israel) has more recently caused
considerable apprehension as well.

We invite papers examining the following questions:

Panel 1: The Russian Language as an Instrument in Russia’s Soft Power Toolbox”

– The role of Russian language in the definition of cultural or political affiliation with Russia, be it in the context of the “law on the compatriots”, in Russian Orthodox parishes abroad or among diaspora and migrant organisations.

– Programmes aiming at the consolidation or spread of Russian language use abroad, like the federal target program “Russian language” for 2016-2020;

– The institutional set-up of Russia’s support of Russian language use and education abroad, in
particular the activities of institutions like Rossotrudnichestvo or foundations like Russkii mir
in Russia’s “near abroad” and further afield.

Panel 2: Russia as a lingua franca and the use of Russian language media

– The legal status and the use of Russian among Russian speaking communities outside the Russian Federation, both within the “near abroad” and further afield (EU member states, Israel);

– Production, dissemination and monitoring of Russian language media (produced in Russia and abroad);

– The role of Russian language media in the mediascapes of countries with significant Russian speaking populations.

Deadline: Please send an abstract of up to 500 words and a short bio (max. 100 words) to before 15 February 2017. Notification of acceptance will be issued at the end of
February 2017. Final workshop papers are due on 30 April 2017. As we are planning a publication of
the papers in a conference volume, all contributions should be original and not published elsewhere.

A conference fee of €50 covering lunches and a conference dinner applies for all participants at the conference “The Politics of Multilingualism”. Limited funding is available to cover accommodation and travel costs. Please indicate when submitting the abstract if you would like to apply for funding.

Conference organisers: Laszlo Márácz, Christian Noack (University of Amsterdam)