Conference: Asia and Africa in Transition

NEW DATES: 28-30 June 2021

Panel: Constructing historical and identity narratives in Central Eurasia

Convener: Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

The mobilization of the past in the present remains an important tool for both nation states in their continuous legitimation efforts and for diverse interest groups with competing goals. Such narratives, big and small (Lyotard), reflect unequal power relations: only the dominant can become hegemonic. Domination, however, never extinguishes the small narratives, it often makes them more compelling, due to their role in bolstering group identity. Small narratives that deviate from or contradict the master narrative must adapt to varying degrees of censorship. Under authoritarian conditions they may be silenced altogether.

The actualization of narratives pertaining to a group’s history is nothing new. The patterns predate the emergence of the modern nation state. Narratives are deployed to manipulate historical knowledge in claiming prestigious ancestry, to invoke the authority of new religion, to construct lineage genealogies, to transmit origin myths, to elaborate localized histories, and to create exemplariness through inventive fiction.

We invite papers that focus on the discursive strategies used to construct such narratives in contemporary and pre-modern Central Eurasia. We are interested in all those who participate in such endeavors and their motivations, as well as issues pertaining to genre, language, style, paratext and moral undertones.