Sunday, December 24, 2023

Central Asian Countries Now Using ‘Cancel Culture’ against Russia to Boost Their Own Identities, Two Russian Scholars Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 21 – Two Russian specialists on culture say that what the post-Soviet countries in Central Asia are doing to boost their own identities and reduce the influence of Russian culture and the Russian language is best understood in terms of the ideas associated with the term “cancel culture.”

            That idea, Elena Khlyshecheva and Valentina Tikhonova argue in the latest issue of the MGIMO journal, Kontsept: Filosofiya, Religiya i Kultura, (7: 2 (2023): 104-123 available at provides the context for understanding and opposing what is going on."

            As they note, “cancel culture” initially was used to explain efforts to displace ideas imposed by elites in violation of the rights of people they controlled. But now it has a broader meaning with elites using it to “cancel” the influence of other cultures that may have been important earlier but no longer correspond to the interests of the new elites.

            That is the case in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and other former Soviet republics in Central Asia, Khlyshecheva and Tikhnova say, where elites in order to boost or in their words “create from scratch” national identities are “cancelling” Russian culture by playing up pre-Russian identities and languages.

            They argue that this approach is ultimately self-defeating because it cuts these peoples off from their own histories and the broader world, but they suggest that in the short term, it is having many negative consequences and must be opposed.


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