"Tolerance...is in Our Blood": The Politics of Tolerance in Putin's Russia

Nov. 13, 2019, 12:00pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building, 420 W 118th St., New York, NY

Join Columbia's Harriman Institute for a talk with Nikolay Sarkisyan about the results of his PhD project on the formation, implementation and decline of the politics of tolerance in Russia in the 2000s and 2010s. In his research, he argues that the politics of tolerance became possible because the Kremlin, seeking legitimacy in the eyes of the international community, adopted the ideology of tolerance to handle societal diversity.

Sarkisyan examines governmental measures to promote tolerance—from legislation to work routines of the bureaucracy—and concludes that they proceeded in a ritualistic manner. In the 2000s, the idea of tolerance was reduced to being instrumental for nation-building as a part of the strengthening the state. Immediate implementers had little understanding of what they were doing and why. The politics never implied the tolerance towards LGBTQI+ community. It became a target for attacks and a reason to abandon the term tolerance altogether. This talk suggests that the entire enterprise of the politics of tolerance was an ideological imitation that crumbled when confronted with domestic politics objectives and peculiarities of the governance.


Nikolay Sarkisyan, PhD candidate, University of Oslo