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Article

On Progressive Identity and Internal Colonization: A Case Study from Russia

International Journal of Cultural Studies. 2016. Vol. 19. No. 2. P. 121-137.

This article analyzes how the ‘progressive’ imagination of democratically minded intellectuals in Russia discursively produces the internal ‘other’ – Vladimir Putin’s supporters – as a singular monolithic subject whose ‘underdeveloped’ intellectual condition is judged against an imagined scale of human progression. Discussing the case study of a Russian independent radio station Echo of Moscow, the author argues that its democratizing anti-Putin discourse is organized along the lines of a mythological narrative well known since colonial times: struggle between ‘moderns’ identifying themselves with progress and ‘barbarians’ whose barbarian identity is ascribed to them by modernizers. Drawing on postcolonial and media studies, the author suggests that antidemocratic divisions into ‘civilized’ wedom and ‘underdeveloped’ theydom are unavoidable until we realize the full extent of the enslaving potential of the progressive narrative of the Enlightenment.