Ivan Sablin's article An imperial community: Difference and inclusionary approaches to Russianness in the State Duma, 1906–1907 was published in open access in the journal European Review of History as part of the special issue "Oratory and representation in the long nineteenth century," edited by Karen Lauwers, Ludovic Marionneau, and Josephine Hoegaerts. Focusing on the debates in the First and Second State Duma of the Russian Empire, the article argues that the imperial parliament was the site for articulating and developing multiple approaches to political community. Together with the better studied particularistic discourses, which were based on ethno-national, religious, regional, social estate, class and other differences, many deputies of the State Duma, including those who subscribed to particularistic agendas, appealed to an inclusionary Russian political community. The production of this new, modern political community was part of the global trend of political modernization but often departed from the homogenizing and exclusionary logic of nation-building. It relied on the experience of the composite imperial space, with its fluid and overlapping social categories. Two approaches predominated. The integrative approach foregrounded civil equality. It resembled other cases of modern nation-building but still remained attentive to diversity. The composite approach synthesized particularistic discourses with the broadly circulating ideas of autonomy and federation and, relying on the imperial politics of difference, imagined individual groups as the building blocks of a new differentiated political community. Both approaches stressed loyalty to the Russian state but borrowed from aspirational patriotism, seeking to rebuild it on new principles.
Ivan Sablin's article A Spiritual Perestroika: Religion in the Late Soviet Parliaments, 1989–1991 was published in open access in the journal Entangled Religions as part of the special issue "Whose Presence, Whose Absences? Decolonising Russian National Culture and History: Observations through the Prism of Religious Contact," edited by Jesko Schmoller and Knut-Martin Stünkel. The article discusses various meanings which were ascribed to religion in the parliamentary debates of the perestroika period, which included Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and other religious and lay deputies. Understood in a general sense, religion was supposed to become the foundation or an element of a new ideology and stimulate Soviet or post-Soviet transformations, either creating a new Soviet universalism or connecting the Soviet Union to the global universalism of human rights. The particularistic interpretations of religion viewed it as a marker of difference, dependent on or independent of ethnicity, and connected to collective rights. Despite the extensive contacts between the religious figures of different denominations, Orthodox Christianity enjoyed the most prominent presence in perestroika politics, which evoked criticisms of new power asymmetries in the transformation of the Soviet Union and contributed to the emergence of the Russian Federation as a new imperial, hierarchical polity rather than a decolonized one.
Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira (Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory and Friedrich–Alexander University Erlangen–Nürnberg) co-edited the book Parties as Governments in Eurasia, 1913–1991: Nationalism, Socialism, and Development (London: Routledge, 2022). Over the course of the twentieth century, a broad array of parties as organizations of a new type took over state functions and replaced state institutions on the territories of the former Ottoman, Qing, Russian, and Habsburg Empires. In the context of roughly simultaneous imperial and postimperial transformations, organizations such as the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP) in the Ottoman Empire (one-party regime since 1913), the Anfu Club in China (parliamentary majority since 1918), and the Bolshevik Party in Russia (in control of parts of the former empire since 1918), not only took over government power but merged with government itself. Disillusioned with the outcomes of previous constitutional and parliamentary reforms, these parties justified their takeovers with slogans and programs of controlled or supervised economic and social development. Inheriting the previous imperial diversities, they furthermore took over the role of mediators between the various social and ethnic groups inhabiting the respective territories. In this respect, the parties appropriated some of the functions which dynastic and then constitutional and parliamentary regimes had ostensibly failed to perform. In a significant counter-example, in spite of prominent aspirations, no one-party regime emerged in Japan, for there the constitutional monarchy had survived the empire's transformation to a major industrialized imperialist power. One-party regimes thrived on both sides of the Cold War and in some of the non-aligned states. Whereas several state socialist one-party regimes collapsed in 1989–1991, some of the communist parties have continued to rule, and new parties managed to monopolize political power in different Eurasian contexts.
Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira (Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory and Friedrich–Alexander University Erlangen–Nürnberg) convened the Conference “From Empire to Federation: Ideas and Practices of Diversity Management in Eurasia, 1905–1950” on May 23–24, 2022. The conference discussed the ideas as well as the legal and political practices of diversity management after empire in the Russian Empire/the USSR, the Qing Empire/China, India, the Ottoman Empire, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere. In particular, it focused on the development of federal and autonomous projects and their justifications, on the constitutional and parliamentary approaches to federalism and autonomism, and on their practical implementation.
Ivan Sablin and Prof. Dr. Matthias Koenig (Max-Weber-Institute for Sociology of Heidelberg University) convened the Conference “Socialist Constitutionalism and Diversity Management since the 1970s” on May 12–13, 2022. This conference aimed to explore the role of constitutions and parliaments for diversity management and political community-building in socialist single-party regimes in Europe and Asia since the 1970s.
Ivan Sablin and Egas Moniz Bandeira (Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory and Friedrich–Alexander University Erlangen–Nürnberg) co-edited the Special Issue “Parliaments, Elections and Constitutions in Qing and Russian Imperial Transformations, 1860s–1920s” of Parliaments, Estates and Representation, the journal of the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions (ICHRPI). This special issue explores concepts and practices related to parliamentarism in the imperial and post-imperial transformations of the Qing and Russian Empires, as well as their successor states. It demonstrates that representative institutions were a crucial factor in the establishment of modernized empires or post-imperial states. In particular, the issue explores how the ‘mining’ of own imperial past and present for concepts and practices was used in combination with the globally circulating forms of representation in the development of parliamentary institutions, how particular interest groups defined through ethnicity, region, religion, or class were represented, and, ultimately, how the parliamentary developments informed the formation of single-party regimes in the post-imperial settings. The special issue includes an article by Ivan Sablin, The State Conference in Moscow, 1917: Class, nationality, and the building of a post-imperial community, Parliaments, Estates and Representation, vol. 42, no. 1, 2022, pp. 38–59, which is available in open access.
The ERC Project invites applications for a PhD Start-Up Scholarship in Mongolian Studies and a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ukrainian Studies. Scholars are specifically invited to apply. Click here for more details.
Ivan Sablin's article The Democratic Conference and the Pre-Parliament in Russia, 1917: Class, Nationality, and the Building of a Postimperial Community was published in the journal Nationalities Papers and is available in Open Access.
Ivan Sablin, Jargal Badagarov, and Irina Sodnomova presented their co-authored chapter Khural democracy: Imperial transformations and the making of the first Mongolian constitution, 1911–1924 at the Boundaries of History Research Seminar at the HSE University, Saint Petersburg, as the Ab Imperio 2020 public lecture.
Ivan Sablin's article Poslankyně neruského původu v sovětském parlamentu, 1989–1991: Intersekcionalita v imperiální situaci was published in the journal Soudobé dějiny of the Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences and is available in Open Access.
The chapter Khural democracy: Imperial transformations and the making of the first Mongolian constitution, 1911–1924, co-authored by Ivan Sablin, Jargal Badagarov, and Irina Sodnomova, received the 2020 Ab Imperio Award for the best study in new imperial history and history of diversity in Northern Eurasia, up to the late twentieth century (best article or chapter).
Тhе book Planting Parliaments in Eurasia, 1850–1950: Concepts, Practices, and Mythologies (co-edited by Ivan Sablin and Egas Bender Moniz Bandeira) wаs published online. Jargal Badagarov, Martin Dorn, and Irina Sodnomova co-authored one of the chapters. The book is available in full open access. Parliaments are often seen as Western European and North American institutions and their establishment in other parts of the world as a derivative and mostly defective process. This book challenges such Eurocentric visions by retracing the evolution of modern institutions of collective decision-making in Eurasia. Breaching the divide between different area studies, the book provides nine case studies covering the area between the eastern edge of Asia and Eastern Europe, including the former Russian, Ottoman, Qing, and Japanese Empires as well as their successor states. In particular, it explores the appeals to concepts of parliamentarism, deliberative decision-making, and constitutionalism; historical practices related to parliamentarism; and political mythologies across Eurasia. It focuses on the historical and “reestablished” institutions of decision-making, which consciously hark back to indigenous traditions and adapt them to the changing circumstances in imperial and postimperial contexts. Thereby, the book explains how representative institutions were needed for the establishment of modernized empires or postimperial states but at the same time offered a connection to the past.
The chapter Khural democracy: Imperial transformations and the making of the first Mongolian constitution, 1911–1924, co-authored by Ivan Sablin, Jargal Badagarov, and Irina Sodnomova, was published as part of the book Socialist and Post-Socialist Mongolia: Nation, Identity, and Culture, edited by Simon Wickhamsmith and Phillip P. Marzluf. The chapter is based on the ERC Project's findings and is available in Open Access.
Ivan Sablin's chapter Russia in the Global Parliamentary Moment, 1905–1918: Between a Subaltern Empire and an Empire of Subalterns was published as part of the anthology Locating the Global: Spaces, Networks and Interactions from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, edited by Holger Weiss. The chapter is based on the ERC Project's findings and is available in Open Access.
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.