Scientific Conference "Old and New Heroes of History: Nation States in Quest for Identity"


On February 8, 2024, the Center of the Indo-Pacific Region of IMEMO held a Scientific Conference "Old and New Heroes of History: Nation States in Quest for Identity"

The conference included a plenary part and three sections. Speakers presented the results of research on the role of prominent personalities – personifiers of identity in identity politics in different countries and regions of the world.

The plenary part included a presentation by Irina Semenenko, Doctor of Political Sciences, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Acting Deputy Director of IMEMO for Scientific Work, Head of the Center for Comparative Socio-Economic and Political Studies of IMEMO, Dr. of Science (Politics), with the report "Identity Politics and Identity in Politics: the Role and Significance of Identity Personifiers" and Irina Prokhorenko, Head of the Sector of International Organizations and Global Political Regulation of the Department of International Political Problems of IMEMO, Dr. of Science (Politics), with the report "Conflict of Identities in Scientific and Political Discourses of the Modern World". They noted the achievements in the theoretical understanding of identity politics, its construction by the subjects of the political process, highlighted the key directions of identity politics, concentrated in the educational policy of the state, such as language policy, memory policy, symbolic policy.

The last two directions became the subject of discussion within the framework of the conference. It was noted that the processes of global transformation of the world order affect not only the politics of states, but also the perception of the population and elites of themselves and their role in the world. The global processes of democratization, decentralization of political governance in different countries, transformation of their political models lead to growing tensions and conflicts of identities.

In the work of Section 1 "Global South – Asia. From the Past to the Future: Constructing Modern Identity and its Representations" was attended by Russian orientalists. Experts on India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey spoke in the first part of the session, and on the countries of Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, East Timor) in the second part. Within the framework of the section, the participants offered an analysis of the role of historical figures and contemporary political figures in these countries, examined the practices of using famous names in symbolic politics. As a result of the section, the participants came to the conclusion that in Asian countries there are tendencies to personalize politics, to use figures unrelated to politics in this process, including by giving them features of holiness. Identity politics in Asian countries is used not only in the practice of state building, but also in the assertion of national sovereignty.

The participants of Section 2 "Global South – Africa. African Heroes of History: Identity and the Politics of Memory" examined the peculiarities of the realization of the politics of memory in the states of the African continent (Nigeria, Guinea, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Ghana, Egypt). Several presentations were devoted to the study of the phenomenon of identity in Nigeria, the study of the contribution of African figures of science, politics and art to the formation of the image of post-colonial Africa. The participants of the discussion noted that such a situation may be typical of the whole of Africa. Examples of the policy of "positive neutrality" and the definition of the concept of "hero" in contemporary African societies, as well as the reassessment of the role and contribution of historical figures in a number of African countries were discussed.

Section 3 "The World Beyond the Global South. New Perspectives of Identity Politics and its Modern Interpretations" was devoted to rethinking the image of the "hero", searching for its new content and revising the historical legacy of "heroes" in modern societies of a number of countries outside the Global South. In particular, such issues as the American practice of rethinking and constructing images of modern heroes, the Cuban experience of memory policy in the implementation of modern economic reforms, and the peculiarities of personification in the experience of modern Bulgaria were considered. Special attention was paid to analyzing the reasons for the return to the historical legacy of significant figures in Taiwan and China in the context of the formation and promotion of the modern agenda of identity politics.

The conference was also attended by employees of IMEMO (Junior Research Fellow Elsa Shirgazina, Cand. of Science (History) Alexey Kupriyanov, Junior Research Fellow Gleb Makarevich, Senior Research Assistant Ekaterina Kosareva, L. T. Turayanova, Junior Research Fellow Ilya Guzhev, Cand. of Science (Politics) Mikhail Terskikh, Junior Research Fellow Ivan Zaitsev, Cand. of Science (Politics) Anastasia Lomova, Research Fellow Sergey Karamaev, Research Fellow Ibragim Ibragimov, Research Fellow  Alexandra Arabadzhyan, Cand. of Science (History) Nikolay Podchasov and a number of institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and leading Russian university centers: Institute of Oriental Studies Institute of China and Modern Asia, Institute for African Studies, Institute for the US and Canadian Studies, Institute of Latin American Studies, MGIMO, Demidov Yaroslavl State University, Russian State University for the Humanities.


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