This presentation explores how national identity shapes the state’s vision of digital governance by considering the cultural repertoires underlying the Russian state’s imagination and rhetoric of internet sovereignty. Drawing on scholarship on nationalism and globalization, cultural sociological approaches to the state, and constructivist international relations theories, the project highlights cultural continuity in Russia’s political imaginary and global information policy from the 1990s to the 2000s-2010s. Examining Russia’s official political and policy discourse with an emphasis on the 1990s, Budnitsky illuminates how the normative tropes of Russia as a great power, a multipolar world order, and informational sovereignty, which are foundational for Russia’s internet sovereignty narrative of the 2000s-2010s, take their root in the first post-Soviet decade. This cultural lens offers an alternative approach to the prevalent scholarly and expert framing of Russia’s political and communication trajectories as divided into a period of democratic development under President Boris Yeltsin followed by admittedly increasing authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin’s rule, and more broadly complicates the popular analytical distinction between democratic and authoritarian internet governance frameworks.
Stanislav Budnitsky is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication. He completed his doctoral degree at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Budnitsky’s research investigates the relationship between nationalism, global communication, and digital technologies, focusing on global internet governance. He holds Master’s degrees in Nationalism Studies from the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and in Journalism from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. Budnitsky has presented his research at a number of conferences, including International Communication Association, International Association for Media and Communication Research, and International Studies Association. His academic writings have appeared in the European Journal of Cultural Studies, International Journal of Communication, and an edited collection, The Net and the Nation-State from Cambridge University Press. During doctoral studies, he spent time as a fellow with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, and an Ottawa-based think tank the SecDev Foundation. Prior to graduate studies, Budnitsky was a freelance media producer and writer in Russia, working on projects ranging from a comedy documentary illuminating the challenges of intercultural communication in adapting “Everybody Loves Raymond” to the Russian screen, to a BBC Newsnight documentary on Vladimir Putin’s first decade in power.
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Photo credit: Konstantin Zavrazhin/RG.