Is the Post- in Postcolonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Toward a Global Post-colonial Critique

The enormous twenty-seven-nation post-Soviet sphere - including both former Soviet Republics and "East Bloc" states - are virtually never discussed in the substantial Western discourse of postcolonial studies. Yet Russia and the Soviet Union exercised colonial control over the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Baltics, and Central and Eastern Europe for between fifty and two hundred years. Thus this essay interrogates the possible postcoloniality of the post-Soviet sphere. The investigation is complicated by Russia's seeming "Eurasian" status and its history of perceived cultural inferiority to the West. Many theoretical, historical, cultural, and geographical positions are examined, and figures such as Curzon, Conrad, Lermontov and Shohat are addressed. In conclusion the essay argues against the current West-centric privileging of Western European colonization as the "standard," and proposes a fully global postcolonial critique. It encourages Western postcolonial scholars to consider the former Soviet sphere, and equally encourages scholars of the former Soviet sphere to consider postcolonial perspectives.