New Views on Sovereignty in Eurasia

June 19-20, 2023 | SRL 2023 Workshop

Workshop Program

Co-Moderators: Dr. Leone Musgrave (United States Army War College) and Dr. Erik Herron (West Virginia University)

This workshop will examine issues of sovereignty and national security in contemporary Eurasia. With competing spheres of influence, the post-Soviet space is undergoing rapid changes that are reshaping US foreign policy and causing widespread instability in the region. The workshop will critically apply multidisciplinary perspectives in order to contextualize regional trends.

What are the prerequisites, benefits, and privileges of sovereignty? Is it affirmed from within the claiming entity or confirmed by outside recognition? What types of communal entities can be sovereign, and in what planes? From the onset of Russian invocations of international law and threats to Russia’s “sovereignty” in the mid-2000s, to the emergence of nationally “sovereign internets” around the globe (whether to deploy state-imposed firewalls or state-mandated consumer protections), to scholarly debate on the forms that Ukrainian sovereignty may take in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, Eurasia presents numerous opportunities for reconsidering the meanings of sovereignty and their deployment in international relations.

Are transnational security or economic agreements reflections and enablers of independent foreign policy choices and fiscal sovereignty, or do they limit them? How have the rise of global media, transnational climate threats, and “gray zone” warfare techniques affected the viability of Westphalian-style state borders? How did such sovereignties serve “non-titular” nationalities and ethnic groups to begin with, particularly in different Soviet and post-Soviet spaces? What lessons does Eurasia take from other countries—in East Asia, South Asia, Latin America—on sovereignty in political and cyber spheres? Do countries respond consistently to each other’s attempts to assert sovereignty in these domains? Do sovereign states sacrifice their inviolability when repressive actions originating domestically transcend state borders? Can states co-exist in a status of overlapping sovereignties, one state having precedence over a certain territory in some spheres, another state having precedence there in others?

Drawing on political science and historical perspectives from debates on self-determination, “extra-territorial” autonomy, and international governance, this workshop forms a part of this year’s Summer Research Laboratory (SRL) in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For questions about the Summer Research Laboratory, funding, and information on other workshops, please see the main SRL page located here: summer research laboratory.

This workshop is made possible by funding from the Department of State’s Program for the Study of Eastern Europe and the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (Title VIII).