The last and the first

The discourse of Romantic nationalism dealing with essentialist categories like national character, soul or mission looks today shockingly outdated. The contemporary academic community largely regards these notions as historical manifestations of culturally constructed identities. However, the ideologies based on the intellectual heritage of Romantic nationalism are vibrant and resurgent in contemporary Russia that is once again rethinking its imperial legacy and trying to build the new nation state on the foundations still unclear to the majority of the population as well as to the intellectual and political elite. The debates about Russia’s ‘place in the world’ its ‘historical destiny’, ‘unique spirituality’ and relative merits and drawbacks of its ‘backwardness’ vis-à-vis the West initiated in 1830-s during the notorious split between Westernisers and Slavophiles are not only continuing in the XXI century, but have...

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