May 20, 2022
Interviewer: RAFAEL KHACHATURIAN. At a moment when its actions truly demand international scrutiny, Russia’s place at the center of Western attention seems only natural. That said, historian and SRB Podcast (https://srbpodcast.org/) host SEAN GUILLORY is engaged in multiple projects examining why Russia has loomed so large for so long in the imaginations of America and Western Europe. He argues that Russia provides a unique foil – European enough to potentially be “like us,” yet perpetually failing to conform to Western ideals – against which the West defines itself and its purpose. In his far-ranging discussion with political theorist Rafael Khachaturian, Guillory describes his podcast series on these themes: one on Lovett Fort-Whiteman, who imagined the Soviet Union as an escape from Jim Crow, but who died in the Gulag; and another on Teddy Roe, an American tourist whose perception of the USSR in 1968, even as he experienced it firsthand, was steeped in Cold War propaganda. They also discuss the invasion of Ukraine as reflecting not only how Russia’s leaders have long imagined its role in the world, but also a shift toward ethnic nationalism.