Lecture titled “Is Russia Truly Exceptional? Messianic Narratives of Great Powers in Comparative Perspective” was delivered by Prof. Dr Alicja Curanović from the University of Warsaw at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s talking about Russia’s special role in the world affairs many commentators point to the Russian immanent messianism. A story of the chosen nation pursuing a special mission in the world is well known in the history of humankind. However, particular nations tell their messianic stories differently. Curanović argues that the status of a country allows for a more accurate explanation of why mission narratives differ. By evaluating the standing of a state, she focuses not so much on its material foundation but rather on normative underpinnings. Whether a country counts as “established”, “aspiring” or “loser” shows in the content of the mission narrative and the role it plays in foreign policy. Her goal is to highlight the connection between mission narrative and status by comparing today’s Russian discourse with the messianic traditions of other countries, i.e. US, UK, China, Japan and Poland. As a result, she offers an original perspective on the sense of mission in politics. Curanović also demonstrates how Russia’s anxiety about its status triggers messianic arguments in the public discourse.

Alicja Curanović is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, the University of Warsaw. She holds a PhD in Political Science. Her main research interests include Russian foreign policy; religious factor in international relations; identity and status, messianism in politics. She has conducted research i.a. at Harvard University, Columbia University, NYU, Stanford University, University of Helsinki, the Russian State University for Humanistic Studies and MGIMO. Her articles appeared in i.a. “International Relations”, “Problems of Post-Communism”, “Politics and Religion”, “Nationalities Papers” or “Religion, State and Society”. Her latest monograph – “The Sense of Mission in Russian Foreign Policy: Destined for Greatness!” (Routledge 2021).

The lecture was organized by the Center for International Security at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade.

You can listen to the lecture by prof. Curanović here.

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