The Special Issue: Parliamentary Formations and Diversities in (Post-)Imperial Eurasia of the peer-reviewed open-access Journal of Eurasian Studies (vol. 11, no. 1, 2020), edited by Ivan Sablin was published. Including some of the papers which presented at the ERC Project's second Workshop “Eurasian Parliamentary Practices and Political Mythologies: Imperial Legacies, Diversities, and Representations in the 20th and 21st Century,” the Special Issue became a collaborative endeavor under the auspices of the ERC Project. Addressing the entangled histories of deliberative decision making, political representation, and constitutionalism in several geographic and temporal contexts, this Special Issue offers nuanced political and intellectual histories and anthropologies of parliamentarism in Eurasia. It explores parliaments and quasi-parliamentary formations and the designs of such in the Qing and Russian Empires, the late Soviet Union, Ukraine, the Russian Far East, and the Russian-Mongolian borderlands (from Buryat and Mongolian perspectives) in seven contributions. Apart from the regional interconnections, the Special Issue foregrounds the concepts of diversity and empire to enable an interdisciplinary discussion. Understanding empires as composite spaces, where the ambivalent and situational difference is central for the governing repertoires, the articles discuss social (ethnic, religious, regional, etc.) diversity in particular contexts and the ways it affected the parliamentary designs. The multitude of the latter is understood as institutional diversity and is discussed in relation to different levels of administration, as well as the positions of respective parliamentary formations within political systems and their performance within regimes. The contributions also investigate different forms of deliberative decision-making, including the soviet, the Congress of People’s Deputies, and the national congress, which allows to include conceptual diversity of Eurasian parliamentarisms into the discussions in area and global studies. The Special Issue highlights the role of (quasi-)parliaments in dissembling and reassembling imperial formations and the ways in which parliaments were eclipsed by other institutions of power, both political and economic.
Ivan Sablin participated in the International Conference “Oratory and Representation: Parliamentary discourses and practices in the 19th century,” which took place at the University of Helsinki on March 6, 2020. His presentation, titled “When Subalterns Speak: Performing class and ethnicity in the Russian State Duma, 1906–1917” was based on the provisional results of the ERC Project ENTPAR. The conference itself was organized by another ERC Project, titled CALLIOPE: Vocal Articulations of Parliamentary Identity and Empire and led by Dr. Josephine Hoegaerts at the University of Helsinki.
The article Soviet federalism from below: The Soviet Republics of Odessa and the Russian Far East, 1917–1918, co-authored by Tanja Penter and Ivan Sablin and completed within the framework of the ERC Project, was published online at the website of the peer-reviewed open-access Journal of Eurasian Studies. The article is part of the journal's upcoming special issue, including the papers which were presented at the ERC Project's second Workshop “Eurasian Parliamentary Practices and Political Mythologies: Imperial Legacies, Diversities, and Representations in the 20th and 21st Century” and edited by Ivan Sablin. The article focused on the practices of extra-parliamentary governance after the fall of the Russian Empire. In early 1918, the Bolshevik-dominated Third Congress of Soviets declared the formation of a new composite polity—the Soviet Russian Republic. The congress’s resolutions, however, simultaneously proclaimed a federation of national republics and a federation of soviets. The latter seemed to recognize regionalism and localism as organizing principles on par with nationalism and to legitimize the self-proclaimed Soviet republics across the former Russian Empire. The current article compared two such non-national Soviet republics, those in Odessa and the Russian Far East. The two republics had similar roots in the discourses and practices of the Russian Empire, such as economic and de facto administrative autonomy. They also took similar organizational forms, were run by coalitions, and opposed their own inclusion into larger national and regional formations in Ukraine and Siberia. At the same time, both of the Soviet governments functioned as ad hoc committees and adapted their institutional designs and practices to the concrete—and very different—social and international conditions in the two peripheries. The focus of the Odessa and Far Eastern authorities on specific problems and their embeddedness in the peculiar contexts reflected the very idea of federalism as governance based on decentralization and nuance but contradicted the party-based centralization and the exclusivity of the ethno-national federalism in the consolidated Soviet state.
Kyonghee Lee, MA, joined the ERC Project as a PhD Candidate. Her research is devoted conservative-reformist visions of rural self-governance in East Asia of the interwar period.
Irina Sodnomova published his report on the ERC Project’s second Workshop “Eurasian Parliamentary Practices and Political Mythologies: Imperial Legacies, Diversities, and Representations in the 20th and 21st Century” at the online platform H-Soz-Kult, the leading German platform for the circulation of relevant academic information in History.
In May–June the ERC Project hosted three visiting fellows. Prof. Dr. Christopher Atwood (University of Pennsylvania), a historian, spent two weeks with the research group on June 15–29. Apart from delivering a keynote lecture at the Workshop “Eurasian Parliamentary Practices and Political Mythologies: Imperial Legacies, Diversities, and Representations in the 20th and 21st Century,” he held two seminars for the PhD candidates, working in the project, and advised the project members on their individual studies. Maria Ukhvatova (Saint Petersburg State University), a political scientist, spent several weeks with the group as part of the bilateral cooperation agreement between the two universities. Dr. Aimar Ventsel (University of Tartu), an anthropologist, visited for a week as part of the Visit ERC Grantee Fellowship sponsored by the Estonia Research Council in cooperation with the ERC.
The ERC Project held its second Workshop “Eurasian Parliamentary Practices and Political Mythologies: Imperial Legacies, Diversities, and Representations in the 20th and 21st Century” on June 17–18. The event was co-convened together with Egas Moniz Bandeira (Autonomous University of Madrid) and took place at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (IWH). The Workshop focused on the institutions of collective decision making on the territories of the former Russian, Qing, and Ottoman Empires, as well as adjacent regions of Eastern Europe, Inner and East Asia, and explored parliamentary practices and political mythologies in these parts of Eurasia. It brought together historians, political scientists, anthropologists, and other scholars into a cross-disciplinary discussion spanning across different area studies. Ivan Sablin and Martin Dorn presented papers based on their research within the ERC Project.
Parliaments, Estates and Representation, the journal of the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions (ICHRPI), published the article “Parliaments and Parliamentarism in the Works of Soviet Dissidents, 1960s–80s” by Ivan Sablin.
Drawing from samizdat (self-published) and tamizdat (foreign-published) materials, this article traces the understandings of parliaments and parliamentarism in individual works by Soviet dissidents and reconstructs the authors’ underlying assumptions in the application of the two ideas. It focuses on the articulations and the implications of four concepts pertaining to parliamentarism – deliberation, representation, responsibility, and sovereignty – in the dissidents’ criticisms of Soviet ‘parliamentarism’ and their own parliamentary designs. Despite the consensus that the USSR Supreme Soviet was both a façade and pseudo parliament and the frequent appeals to popular sovereignty, only a handful of authors discussed parliamentarism as the latter’s manifestation before the Perestroika. With very few dissidents placing deliberation at the centre of a post-Soviet order, the conviction that social and political systems should be based on an ‘ultimate truth’ and respective societal blueprints dominated the dissident discourse in which a parliament, if mentioned at all, was a rostrum rather than a forum.
Martin Dorn published his report on the ERC Project’s first Workshop “Parliaments and Political Transformations in Europe and Asia: Diversity and Representation in the 20th and 21st Century” at the online platform H-Soz-Kult, the leading German platform for the circulation of relevant academic information in History.
Ivan Sablin participated in the Conference “Entering the Parliamentary Stage – Women in Parliament and Politics in International Comparison,” which took place at the German Bundestag in Berlin on March 6–8, 2019. His presentation titled “Minority Women and Revolutionary Parliaments: The Cases of Russian and Soviet Assemblies in 1917–1922 and 1989–1993” explored the participation of non-Russian women in parliamentary formations during the Russian Empire/Soviet Union and Soviet Union/Russian Federation transformations and the ways this experience shaped their political careers and influenced their interpretations of revolution and reform. The conference was organized by the Commission for the History of Parliamentarism and Political Parties (Kommission für Geschichte des Parlamentarismus und der politischen Parteien, KGParl), the Chair for Gender History of the University of Jena, the Institute of Contemporary History and the Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the introduction of women’s suffrage in Germany and included both scholars and German politicians.
The ERC Project held its first Workshop “Parliaments and Political Transformations in Europe and Asia: Diversity and Representation in the 20th and 21st Century” on February 12–13. During the event, which took place at the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (IWH), historians, political scientists, anthropologists, and representatives of other disciplines had the opportunity to discuss the histories of political representation and deliberative decision-making in imperial and post-imperial contexts and the role of parliaments in major social and political transformations of the twentieth and twenty-first century. The workshop traced the emergence of so-called “peripheral” parliaments in early twentieth century Eurasia, discussed the eclipse of parliamentary institutions, and examined post-socialist and post-authoritarian parliamentary designs. Special attention was devoted to the role of parliaments and parliamentary formations (such as congresses and councils) in representation and management of ethnic, religious, regional, and other social and cultural diversity, recruitment of elites, and legitimation of political and economic regimes in the Russian/Soviet, Qing/Chinese, Mongolian, Ukrainian, Ottoman, and German contexts. Ivan Sablin presented a paper titled “The Soviet Parliamentary Moment: The Russian Federation as a Congress Republic between Socialism and Capitalism, 1990–1993.” Jargal Badagarov and Irina Sodnomova shared the provisional results of their individual and collaborative research within the ERC Project in the joint presentation “Mongolia’s and Russia’s Khurals as Parliaments and Non-Parliaments.”
Ivan Sablin presented the provisional results of his research within the ERC Project at the Colloquium of the Chair for Easter European History of the University of Heidelberg on January 15, 2019. His presentation titled “Parliamentarism in the Works of Soviet Dissidents, 1960s–1980s” was based on the results of his archival fieldwork at the Open Society Archives, Budapest.
Ivan Sablin and Jargal Badagarov presented a joint paper titled “Post-Imperial Debates in Russia and China and the Making of the Mongolian Constitution, 1905–1924” at the 50th Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), which was held in Boston, MA, on December 6–9, 2018, and attracted some 2700 scholars from all over the world. The paper was part of the panel “Parliaments and Imperial Transformations: Political Representation and Diversity Management in and after the Russian, Habsburg, and Qing Empires,” organized by Ivan Sablin, and focused on the Constituent Khural (assembly) and the adoption of the first Constitution of the Mongolian People’s Republic (1924), which was a product of complex trans-imperial and trans-regional entanglements. Like other papers in the panel, it employed the perspective of prolonged imperial transformations which allowed tracing intellectual and political genealogies of new post-imperial polities to the late imperial parliamentarisms and constitutional debates.
Ivan Sablin participated in the International Workshop “Nation and Minority, Sovereignty and Secession” at the University of Oxford on November 23–24, 2018. His presentation, titled “Building a Post-Imperial Nation: Parliaments and Diversity Management in and after the Russian Empire, 1905–1922” focused on the post-imperial assemblies in Ukraine, Siberia, Transcaucasia, and other regions of the former Russian Empire.
Ivan Sablin presented a paper titled “Parliaments in the Revolutionary Russian Far East, 1905–1922” at the International Workshop “Pacific Russia: Transnational and Transimperial Perspectives on Modern Northeast Asia (from the 18th century until the 1930s),” which took place at the University of Bielefeld on October 26–27, 2018.
Irina Sodnomova, MPhil, and Martin Dorn, MA, joined the ERC Project as PhD Candidates. Irina Sodnomova started working on the history of parliamentary institutions among Mongolic-speaking groups, while Martin Dorn engaged in investigating the history of post-imperial parliamentarism in Ukraine.
Ivan Sablin presented the ERC Project “Entangled Parliamentarisms: Constitutional Practices in Russia, Ukraine, China and Mongolia, 1905–2005” at the Sixth Deutsch-Schweizerischer Studientag für Osteuropäische Geschichte, which was held at the Studienhaus Wiesneck (Buchenbach) on May 3–4, 2018 and united scholars from the Universities of Heidelberg, Freiburg, Konstanz, Tübingen, Zürich, Basel, and Bern.