Traditionally scholars of Russia have paid little attention to race, either as a historical phenomenon or as an analytical category. Race, it would seem, does not matter in the Russian case. Only recently have some begun to challenge this long held view that has affected our understanding of Russia’s past no less than its present. But important questions remain. Why has race in Russia been so difficult to analyze? Do race and racism mean the same things in Russia as they do in “classical” racial regimes such as Germany or the United States? In what ways does Russia challenge the category of race as it has been developed in other contexts? Can we talk about the particularity of race in Russia without falling into Russian exceptionalism?
This two-day workshop aims to make a serious intervention in a key category of global analysis. It brings together historians, literary scholars, and anthropologists from Europe and the U.S., and combines Russian specialists with discussants from other fields (Latin America, U.S., Western Europe, the Caribbean). The central question will be not whether, but how race has worked in Russia over the past two centuries. We seek to bring Russia into a broader discussion, and at the same time account for the variety of racial systems that emerged in European, American and Asian empires.
The workshop is being generously sponsored by the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, the NYU Department of History, Global Research Initiatives (NYU Provost), the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (Columbia University), and the Humanities Initiative (NYU).