“Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes” in (Post-)Colonial Russia
Keywords:Islam, gender, Russia, Tatarstan, colonialism, decolonization, Islamic feminism, USSR
AbstractThis article focuses on post- and decolonial thought in contemporary Russia’s cultural debates by looking at the novel Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes by Guzel Yakhina and its reception in the “center” of Russia and in Tatarstan—the region described in the book. The insufficient presence of post- and decolonial perspectives amongst public intellectuals is highlighted, showing how the book, which was described as postcolonial, actually supports Russian (neo-)imperialism. The main argument is that the book erases the problematic aspects of Soviet universalism in terms of ethnic and religious difference and supports the centralizing policies of the contemporary Russian state, which is increasingly fusing with the Orthodox church. Furthermore, it presents the ‘deislamization’ of the protagonist as her ‘emancipation’ and erases the subjectivity of non-Russian women in the Russian Empire, the USSR and contemporary Russia. Situating the novel in the context of decolonial feminist scholarship, the article suggests vectors for further development of cultural debates in a country that is currently waging a colonial war in Ukraine.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Victoria Kravtsova
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