Professor Dirk Uffelmann (University of Passau):
Drawing on the theoretical discussion of common features of cultures in the post-Soviet space, my project refocuses on the linguistic dimension and investigates post-Russian Eurasia. On the one hand, it may be argued that the role of the Russian language is seriously challenged in the post-Soviet context, where independent states are downgrading the status of Russian in administration and education while ethnic Russians are ‘remigrating’ from former Soviet republics to the Russian Federation. On the other hand, there is, however, one medium in which Russian is gaining new significance as a language of transregional communication: the internet. Albeit to a lesser degree than English and Chinese, Russian serves as a means of communication between Russian-speaking communities all over the world. What is more, the Russian internet (Runet) offers access to elaborated resources of contemporary culture (video and music downloads etc).
I aim to explore the role that the Russian-based Runet plays for Eurasian web communities outside the Russian Federation. Relying on Central Asian material, I will ask whether post-colonial anxieties about Russian cultural imperialism through the Runet and ‘Cyber-Russians’ are justified or not. Moreover, I will look into the Central Asian, possibly post-colonial strategies of coping with this situation as well as the differences between the particular strategies of the post-Soviet Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan). Essential to this study is the notion of ‘metrocentric cyberimperialism’ (Rusciano 2001), which combines aspects of media studies with postcolonial studies. My interdisciplinary approach to internet studies is completed by a linguistic focus on the performativity of language usage online for creating situational linguistic identities.
About Dirk Uffelmann
Professor Dirk Uffelmann is currently full Professor and Chair of Slavic Literatures and Cultures in the University of Passau. He has recently been appointed Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. He was awarded his PhD in 1999 at the University of Constance. From 2006 to 2009 he was Associate Professor for East-Central European Studies at the University of Passau and in 2007 and 2009 he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Bergen. His publications include Der erniedrigte Christus – Metaphern und Metonymien in der russischen Kultur und Literatur (=Bausteine zur Slavischen Philologie und Kulturgeschichte. Reihe A: Slavistische Forschungen 62). Cologne: Böhlau-Verlag, XI + 1046 pp. 2010 and Zeitschrift für Slavische Philologie Ed. Tilman Berger, Helmut Keipert, Walter Koschmal, Dirk Uffelmann. Heidelberg: C. Winter, issues 65,2 (2007/08), 244 pp.; 66,1 (2009), 241 pp.; 66,2 (2009), 241 pp. (2007–2009).