Nicolai Petro, Professor of Comparative and International Politics at the University of Rhode Island joins John Harrison to discuss the shifting nature of the relations between nationality and identity. As Professor Petro notes, such relationships evolve and shift over time; responding to political and social context. One of the characteristics of the uncertainty of the current era is that our fundamental perceptions of other cultures and civilisations are moving because they are being changed by those who are able to make changes – elites. We tend to feel best and more productive when reality conforms to our perception of it. If that reality changes quickly then people basically feel disorientated.
The conversation turned to Russia, historically looked upon as a natural ally against Islam. Professor Petro pointed out though that this paradigm is not completely applicable today, because Russia itself recognizes that it is partly Islamic. Russia therefore serves as an example of how to solve the problem of ‘othering’ Islam, because it has assimilated Islam into its own culture. Russia may become less of an ‘other’ in the future, however it will not be completely accepted into western civilisation.
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