Summer School 2015: Post-Imperial Turns


2015 the Summer School of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The Summer School "Post-Imperial Turns" was not primarily concerned with the evaluation of the research on empires, nor did it aim to develop a new theory of empires. Its objective was to discuss basic theses and questions of the Imperial Turn with reference to the participating disciplines. The imperial past, or more specifically, the post- and inter-imperial presence of the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan was used as a case study.

In the past few decades humanities, cultural and social scientists have placed so much emphasis on the study of empires that the history of science has experienced a paradigma shift. Whatever the assessment of this Imperial Turn may be in retrospect, the intensified study of empire along with the analysis of globalisation has sharpened our understanding of supranational relations. Questions such as “What keeps empires together for centuries?”, “Why do they collapse?”, “What happens after the empire?” and “How does empire nostalgia come about?, have – among other things – renewed the interest on the imperial periphery. In the context of the first postcolonial studies, the residents of border areas did not appear as passive, impotent objects of power interests, but as actors that shaped the behavior and perception of the conquerors and administrators. Transcultural links between centers and peripheries which originated in the imperial time continue to exert powerful influence to this day. Such relations can be observed in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, countries that western scholars have researched systematically after their independence.

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