Relational area studies: Russia and geographies of knowledge

Cheskin, A. and Jašina-Schäfer, A. (2022) Relational area studies: Russia and geographies of knowledge. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 47(4), pp. 1044-1057. (doi: 10.1111/tran.12551)

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Despite valid criticisms that Area Studies is premised on geopolitical, orientalising, and Eurocentric logics, we advocate for the more critically aware and reflexive potential of Relational Area Studies. By this, we mean that the study of external spaces and areas should always be accompanied by critical efforts to examine internal processes of knowledge production. We therefore build upon “Worlding of Geography” approaches to foster an in-between thinking for Area Studies research. This involves examining an area “out there” while simultaneously considering the relational spaces “in here” . Focusing on the illuminating case of Russian Studies, we examine the hierarchies of power and geographies of knowledge associated with scholarly production in and about Russia. We do so by providing an in-depth, comparative analysis of materials in English-language and Russian-language scholarly journals. The results of this empirical study help us reflect on the “commonsensical” practices, assumptions, and frameworks that often go unchecked in mainstream western scholarship. From our “in here” - “out there” perspective, we use these findings to pose awkward questions about our biases and privileges within global hierarchies of power and geographies of knowledge. Ultimately, we believe this type of relational engagement helps us enrich, decolonise, and rethink our own scholarly practices. Area Studies, we argue, should learn from the insights of critical geography and should be one of the foremost venues for this type of vibrant, reflexive, and critical engagement. Our framework helps us move beyond binary conceptualisations of the Global North/South and East/West by including careful consideration of the "in-between" spaces and relational knowledge flows that accompany all global knowledge. We also include a few preliminary notes on the implications of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, highlighting the applicability of our approach to future scholarship of Russia, but also how the war challenges some of our core assumptions.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cheskin, Dr Ammon
Authors: Cheskin, A., and Jašina-Schäfer, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Journal Name:Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
ISSN (Online):1475-5661
Published Online:14 May 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 47(4): 1044-1057
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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