The lecture will examine the religious and ethical roots of Russian geopolitical culture. It will draw on the concept of mimetic rivalry advanced by René Girard while arguing that historically (in modern history) Russia’s geopolitical identity was locked in a dyadic interrelationship with Western Europe. It explains why the more Westernized Russia became the more hostile to ‘the West’ it grew. The situation of mimetic rivalry mobilizes an ‘army’ of religious metaphors, which paradoxically pulsate between the Messianic vision of Katechon, a political body capable to postpone the coming of Antichrist, and – equally Messianic but in a different way – vision of Kenoticism, self-belittling, self-emptying. This dialectics of self-aggrandizement and humbleness reverberates in today’s debates about and around such concepts as ”Holy Russia” and the ”Russian World”.
Mikhail Suslov is a Marie Curie researcher at the Uppsala Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University. He obtained his PhD in history from the European University Institute in Florence in 2009. His research interests include Russian, and post-Soviet intellectual history, conservative and right-wing political ideology, critical geopolitics, conceptual history of the Russian Orthodox Church. His current study deals with the post-Soviet geopolitical ideas and new media.