CHE-Salon Russia against modernity, the end of an empire.


november 28


07:15 pm - 09:45 pm

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Our guest in the first of 4 salons about lasting peace in Europe, is Alexander Etkind, professor at Central European University in Vienna

According to the Russian historian Alexander Etkind, Putin’s war in Ukraine is a harbinger of the breakdown of the Russian Federation. In his book Russia Against Modernity (2023), Alexander explains that the Russian Federation has been developed into a monomaniac ‘petrostate’ with a very rich minority that is in power. In the first place, it is a war against modernity, against the actions to mitigate climate change, against the energy transition, against the de-carbonization of our economy, against changing to a knowledge economy, and against rights for women and more. The elites that support Putin are best served by the status quo, nevertheless, society is changing, and families are disintegrating. Putin must use patriotic language from the past and violence against more democratic values to stay in power. However, Alexander sees this as temporary fixes and expects the fossil fuel revenues to decline and the Russian Federation to fall apart. This first salon will introduce Russian imperialism and colonialism, the imperial nature of the Russian Federation, and its colonization of indigenous peoples seeking autonomy.

Our guest Dr. Alexander Etkind (born 1955 in Russia), is a historian and cultural scientist. He is a professor of international relations at the Central European University in Vienna. Previously, he was Chair of Russia-Europe relations at the European University Institute in Florence, and Professor of Russian literature and cultural history at the University of Cambridge. He studied psychology, English, Slavonic studies, and cultural history. Alexander taught at several places, such as the University of Helsinki, New York University, etc. Etkind’s research focuses on European and Russian intellectual history, memory studies, natural resources and the history of political economy, empire and colonies in Europe, and Russian politics. From 2010 to 2013, he led the international research project “Memory at War: Cultural Dynamics in Poland, Russia, and Ukraine” in Cambridge. He wrote many books, from Eros of the Impossible (1996) to Russia Against Modernity (2023).

This salon is online through ZOOM and takes about 2,5 hours. The language is English. It will consist of two parts. One block with Alexander Etkind’s introduction and Q&A. In the second part, we will dialogue about what we can learn from his knowledge, experiences, and wisdom.

We ask for a contribution between 5 – 25 euro for participation in the salon to raise some money for organizing these meetings. If you cannot pay anything, please send an email to and we will send you the zoom link to join the salon.

A series of four salons: While there is much support in the West for Ukraine, there are also loud voices calling for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, thinking this will lead to peace. But is this really the path to sustainable peace in Europe? The participants gain new information about what is happening in Russia and the nature of the war. We invite you to listen with an open mind and open heart and to start a debate in your own country about this issue after the series. Because we think it is an important choice for national governments which way to go and what to encourage.

On December 12th, Dr. Elke Fein will be our guest with analysis on Putin: why negotiations won’t work with his type of thinking. In the third salon on January 16th, Mr Valerii Pekar will analyse scenarios for the Russian Federation and visions on ending the war and establishing sustainable peace. For the last salon , we will invite some of the Russian captive nations leaders to speak about their current situation and dreams.

We hope to meet you!!

Auke van Nimwegen, Hans Ruijs, Lars Lutje Schipholt and Leida Schuringa


You are invited to join us in this CHE-Salon on November 28th. Sign up by clicking on the red EventBrite link. You will receive a confirmation and Monday November 27th you will get a ZOOM-link to join our meeting.

See for more information about the Center for Human Emergence (CHE) in The Netherlands our website . You also can sign up for our mailing list there.

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