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Photo: “Vladimir Putin Speech at State Duma plenary session 2020-03-10 03“, by The Presidential Press and Information Office, licensed under CC BY 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Wolfe, Sven Daniel. “Between the minor and the intimate: Encountering the authoritarian (extra) ordinary in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.” Geopolitics (2021): 1-26.


Through an investigation of authoritarian encounters in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, this paper takes seriously the challenges of making geopolitical sense of contextualised micro moments. Working in a minor key, the paper offers three contributions. First, it advances a minor theory, micropolitical sensibility that interrogates the co-constitution of intimate and geopolitical scales. Second, it proposes a loose ethnographic framework to guide the analysis of ordinary moments, link them outside of the immediate, and make fuller sense of the geopolitical: rupture, digestion, connection, and representation. Third, it aspires to destabilise regional container thinking and Orientalising tendencies through a focus on authoritarian practices rather than authoritarian states. Overall, the paper foregrounds a minoritarian reading of the micro-dynamics of authoritarian encounter in order to enrich the conversation on the constitution of the geopolitical, while also offering an intimate and interconnected methodology that encourages critical, safe, and ethical research under authoritarian conditions.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.