JRL NEWSWATCH: “Interview – Marlene Laruelle” – E-International Relations
“… Q: Where do you see the most exciting research/debates happening in your field?
I see a lot of exciting debates happening in the fields of both Russian Studies and Illiberalism. In the field of Russian Studies, there are mixed feelings, obviously, because of Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine: a lot of pessimism regarding the future of conducting research in Russia and difficult discussions about our collective responsibility and need for introspection, but also fascinating – and welcome – transformations thanks to new epistemological interrogations, with the most polarising of these likely the idea of ‘decolonising’ the field. In the other area I cover, illiberalism, I think there is growing agreement among scholars that the concept is meaningful, especially as its main competitor, populism, has faded due to inflation and overstretch. I see many research directions emerging around the concept itself, its situational relationship to liberalism, its ambivalences towards neoliberalism, its grassroots aspect, its multiple reconceptualisations in different cultural contexts, etc.
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Q: What is the most important advice you could give to young scholars of International Relations?
… I think succeeding at mastering the main conceptual questions and articulating that with area studies knowledge is critical, and one cannot work without the other. Students and young scholars must work hard on that articulation, as academic fragmentation and the ‘credibility revolution’ tend to discourage a deep dive into area studies. Beyond this, as in other fields, intellectual curiosity and a pinch of a ‘contrarian’ mindset that allows one to maintain a critical stance and not give in to media and think tank newspeak are always a plus!”