‘To Make a People Out of a Mere Population’: Sovereignty and Governmentality in Hegemonic Russian Cultural Policy

In: Russian Politics
Tatiana Romashko Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä Jyväskylä Finland

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The paper claims that contemporary Russian cultural policy has been determined by political transformations associated with the political project to establish sovereignty that has organized Putin’s regime since 2012. The idea behind it is traced to Putin’s 2006 intention ‘to make a people out of a mere population’. To understand that intention, and to explain the contribution of culture and cultural policy to its concretization, the paper draws on Foucault’s account of sovereignty and governmentality, and the development of the Gramscian notion of hegemony. The paper argues that Putin’s regime uses governmentality in its hegemonic project to establish sovereignty. To describe that project, and the contribution of culture and cultural policy to it, the paper presents evidence of the relation between Putin’s political actions and changes in the structure of Russian state and government, Russian culture, and the cultural policy infrastructure. The paper begins with a discussion of the draft Concept of culture introduced in 2018 and concludes with an examination of its fate in order to raise the question of the contingency of Putin’s hegemonic project.

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