Dashkova Centre

About our research

The Dashkova Centre's current research projects are divided into several themes.

Russian in Context

The main focus of the Dashkova research team is the exploration of critical perspectives on the Russian language within political, social, historical and cultural contexts. Both theoretical and empirical studies are carried out in order to advance our understanding of Russian in its relationship with discourses, power, identity, and cultural and social practices.

The objective of Russian in Context is to expand and deepen the ‘linguistic turn’ in the current international scholarly debate within Russian Studies. This research is profoundly inspired by the work of Princess Ekaterina Vorontsova-Dashkova (1743-1810), who gave the role of the Russian language in society a new understanding and significance.

Current research projects

Global Russians: Transnational Russophone Networks in the UK

The Global Russians project forms part of the Transnational Strand of the Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community. The transnational strand is coordinated from Durham University and is co-led by Professors Andy Byford (MLAC) and Anoush Ehteshami (SGIA). It focuses on the dynamics of political, social and cultural interaction across a wide variety of examples of communities that share a single language, but are dispersed across multiple states and cultures.

The ‘Global Russian’ is a new, emergent phenomenon of post-communist Russian cosmopolitanism, which espouses the transnational mobility of people, capital, language and culture. Russian diasporic and transcultural spaces and networks have become increasingly prominent on the British multicultural and multilingual map – from dedicated art auction houses, costume balls and festivals to hundreds of schools, societies, restaurants, clubs, and internet sites. The visibility of Russians in the UK has been augmented in many television documentaries, series, novels and newspaper columns which intently observe and comment on their collective life.

This project, led by Professor Lara Ryazanova-Clarke (University of Edinburgh), with the assistance of Dr Yulia Lukyanova, aims to capture the construction, articulation and commodification of ‘global Russian’ identities and to identify the forms in which they interact with the local cultural and social life in the UK. Combining the discursive studies approach with globalisation theories, the projects will develop a new paradigm to explore the phenomenon of ‘global Russian’ identity and its community-building potential. By examining the apparently high level of Russian cultural engagement in the UK, the project findings will deepen our understanding of ‘community’ itself.

The project interprets Russian sites of identity production and community building in the UK as fluid, discursively constructed networks occurring intra-diasporically and transculturally. It treats ‘global Russian’ identity as discursive performance and explores its complex layers and cleavages as they constantly process and negotiate the flows of narratives, meanings and imaginaries. The data will be collected through extensive anthropological fieldwork in both physical and virtual spaces of identity production and exchange, focusing on Russian-speaking cultural, educational, business and leisure domains in England and Scotland.

The proposed project will contribute to the exploration of how evolving forms of mobility and connectivity are transforming contemporary transnational communities, specifically that of globally-dispersed Russian speakers. The proposed project is concerned with how the formation and transformation of transnational language communities affects international relations, definitions of nationhood, negotiations of identity, migration processes, diasporisation, and so forth. By exploring the way in which ‘global Russians’ engage with the UK’s local cultural and social life, and vice versa, the project will provide insight into ‘transnational Britain’ itself, contributing new understandings into what ‘community’ might mean in this context. By examining the diverse, vibrant and rapidly expanding Russian cultural engagement with the UK, the project will interrogate how language can open communities to the world by maximizing connectivity. Finally, the analysis of ‘global Russian’ identity discourses will unpick linguistic strategies involved in the production of memory, nostalgia, and cultural and linguistic belonging. This will contribute to answering the question: does language facilitate or disrupt the globalising nation’s capacity to access its imaginary pasts and imagined futures?

The project will include a series of workshops which will involve not only researchers but also extensive input from non-academic stakeholders (writers and media figures engaging in the representation of the Russian diaspora in the UK and cultural entrepreneur organisations, such as Academia Rossica, Calvert 22 Gallery and Pushkin House). The key event of 2017 was the international workshop ‘Londongrad and Londongradians: Identities, Imaginaries, and Cultural Practices’. This event brought together writers, script writers, journalists and actors who have worked on the creation of the imaginaries of the Russian-British community of ‘Londongrad’, and academics able to provide a critical examination of these imaginaries.

The project has been described in a news article by the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in London in August 2017.

Global Russian

One of the less examined consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union is the establishment of Russian as a global language, spoken by a proportion of the population in a number of post-Soviet states and other countries across the world. This collaborative project aims to explore approaches for establishing a coherent theoretical paradigm suitable for scholarly examination of global Russian in the context of both the integrating and disintegrating factors. Among the strands of the project are examination of multiple issues connected to the Russian speaker’s identity as a member of a linguistic minority in the new world configuration, language policies in relation to Russian, and the emergence of multiple Russians.

Funded by CRCEES, MAPRYAL, AHRC and Knowledge Transfer Fund

Russian Discourse, Communication and Identity

Identity is a central organising element of the social world. The theme explores various identities and subjectivities in relation to their construction, performance and maintenance in a number of contexts.

Funded by AHRC, CRCEES and the Scottish and Newcastle postgraduate programme.

“Middle” and “Creative”? Emerging Russian Social Groups in Language and Culture

Since the Millennium, Russia has experienced a period of deep social transformations. One of the key developments is the emergence of the educated urban social cluster engaged in entrepreneurship, knowledge technologies and creative professions. Loosely defined labels, such as ‘creative class’ and ‘educated citizens’, have been coined to refer to this group along with the use of a more general notion of ‘middle class’. The emergent socio-cultural groups and networks entail shifts in communication codes, repertoires and practices as they are actively searching for strategies and lifestyles for describing, performing and reflecting their newly perceived identities and values, and for distinguishing themselves from other parts of society. The objective of the project is to facilitate an interdisciplinary investigation into the linguistic and cultural forms, codes and practices associated with the Russian ‘creative/middle class’.

In collaboration with and co-funded by the Russian Humanities University.

Linguistic Violence as the Edge of Words – Testing the Limits of Sayability

This interdisciplinary collaborative project was initiated together with Sodertorn and Stockholm Universities (Sweden). It focuses on an assessment of various understandings and implementations of the notions of linguistic violence and negotiation of violence under totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. The objective of the project is to investigate the performative edge of the word as it is intertwined with, expressed as, or interpreted as violent social behaviour. In addition to the socio-cultural Russian language studies approaches, the project includes perspectives from other disciplines such as German, law, media studies, and translation studies.

Co-funded by Södertörn and Stockholm Universities, and the LLC Edge of Words project.

For other projects within the Russian in Context group see the research profiles of our staff and students: