Centres and Peripheries in the Post-Soviet Space: Relevance and Meanings of a Classical Distinction.
Like all empires, the Soviet Empire was also based on the distinction centre–periphery. Although the Soviet Empire no longer exists, relationships between centres and peripheries still shape realities in the region. The book analyses the relevance of this distinction for the understanding of political, economic, and cultural realities in the post-Soviet space. Case studies provided by scholars from different countries of the former Soviet Union explore the potential of the distinction in historical as well as in economic and political perspectives.
The notions of “center” and “periphery” do not only pertain to geography, politics, economics, and culture. First and foremost, they are about values. Indeed, the ability to produce values that are meaningful for “others” provides an individual (a group, an institute, or the society) with the characteristic of centrality, while the acceptance of these very values by the “others” provides them with the characteristic of peripherality. Consequently, this is how the power of the “center” over the “periphery” arises and acquires legitimacy.
The history of the political transformations of the post-Soviet space is also about values. The Soviet empire has fallen apart mainly because it became incapable of producing values and stopped being a value itself. Since then all post-Soviet polities have been trying to find a new source of politically relevant values, both internal and external. The domestic difficulties in the post-Soviet states, conflicts between them, as well as troubles in the relations with its neighbours possess one basic reason – the center (centers) is yet to be found, and not a single contender was able to establish itself in that position. The article focuses on the different strategies used by the post-Soviet states to find and/or construct the “center” and the causes of its modest success.