The Other Europe in Search of a Voice: Between Eurocentrism and Relativism

The Institute of International Relations would like to cordially invite you to the seminar „The Other Europe in Search of a Voice: Between Eurocentrism and Relativism", which will take place on October 12, 2017 at the Institute of International Relations, Nerudova 3, Prague 1. The event is also very well-suited for the PhD students particularly interested in this topic.


Datum: 12.10.2017
Čas: 14:00
Místo: Institute of International Relations, Nerudova 3, Prague 1
Organizuje: Petr Kratochvíl

Speaker: Viacheslav Morozov, Professor of EU-Russia Studies, University of Tartu

Chair: Petr KratochvílDirector, Senior Researcher, Institute of International Relations Prague

The charge of Eurocentrism has become a powerful tool of critique, both academic and political. Current intellectual fashion emphasises difference over totality, with the latter being associated with colonialism and totalitarianism. This debate has a long history in postcolonial scholarship and politics, but it has recently gained prominence in Europe, with Russia leading the way and countries like Poland and Hungary following suit.

Their leaders advance a relativist agenda, which prioritises the national (arbitrarily defined) over the shared European norm. This is of course a reaction to the naïve Eurocentrism of the EU enlargement, and of the transition paradigm in general. It does, however, have deeper roots in the history of East European nationalism, with its mimetic approach to the idea of civilisation. Its intellectual and political consequences were exacerbated by the abandonment of class as the main reference point of the left-wing critique in 1970-80s and the rise of the ‘cultural left’, with its emphasis on identity and difference rather that universal emancipation.

Professor Morozov will share the results of his current research on Russia and suggest some tentative cross-national comparisons to demonstrate that the Eurocentric and nationalist-relativist position are, in the final analysis, rooted in the same pernicious paradigm of identitarian politics. His normative argument is that the populist right cannot be countered unless one foregrounds the universal dimension of equality and emancipation, as opposed to rights and entitlements associated with particular identities. The key political question today, as always, consists in how to navigate between totalitarian disregard of the local and the parochialist concentration on the particular.