The clash of sovereignties: The Latvian subject and its Russian imperialism

Dace Dzenovska


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is occupying the minds of pundits, scholars, and politicians worldwide and across the political spectrum. In the midst of these discussions, Eastern European voices have mobilized around claims to sovereignty as the ability to make choices about which alliances to join and claims to knowledge about the nature of Russian imperialism. In this essay, I analyze the claims to sovereignty and knowledge from the perspective of one Eastern European subject, namely the Latvian subject. I conclude that the encounter between the Latvian subject and its very own Russian imperialism represents a clash of sovereignties rather than a clash of civilizations. If the Latvian subject strives for an international relations version of sovereignty that allows it to join existing alliances, the Russian state as a multinational federation—or an empire—strives for a geopolitical version of sovereignty that allows it to constitute—or reshape—orders.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/722723