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  • 1.
    Eriksson, Johan
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Russian space policy and identity: visionary or reactionary?2021In: Journal of International Relations and Development, ISSN 1408-6980, E-ISSN 1581-1980, Vol. 24, no 2, p. 381-407Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Why is there a lack of grand, forward-looking vision in contemporary Russian space policy? Our study reveals nothing that compares with either ambitious Soviet goals or contemporary American goals of being first, reaching farthest, and being a dominant power in space; nor are there any clear explanations available of what goals Russia pursues in space. Notwithstanding the celebrational rhetoric on Russia being an ‘acknowledged leader’ which recurrently refers to its superpower past, the substance of contemporary Russian space policy is not focused on hegemony but rather on reaching equal status, catching up, being competitive, and strengthening independent access to space. Whether motivated by a shift to a less ambitious great power identity seeking equal status rather than dominance or departing from a perception of inferiority in comparison with the West, Russian space policy simultaneously seeks lasting space cooperation with the US and criticises the US for militarisation of space. This may seem paradoxical from a geopolitical perspective, but it makes sense from an identity perspective; for better or worse, the US remains Russia’s ‘significant other’ in space.

  • 2.
    Eriksson, Johan
    et al.
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Ryssland i rymden: Nostalgi, futurism och stormaktspolitik2023In: Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, ISSN 0039-0747, Vol. 125, no 1, p. 99-120Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    How is outer space perceived in contemporary Russian politics and popular cul-ture? This question is addressed through an analysis of post-Soviet Russian space policy and Russian popular culture, the latter concerning e.g. space museums, movies and literature. By looking both at Russian space policy (operated mainly through the Russian state corporation Roscosmos) and at expressions in popular culture, a wide plethora of ideas and visions of cosmos and Russia’s place in space is observed. Patterns of continuity and change are observed in both realms, and link-ages between politics and popular culture are noted. Expressions of Soviet nostal-gia exists, but there is also a widespread perception of Russia as a weakened space power, seeking to maintain space exploration capacity rather than to take a global lead. In contemporary popular culture, there is also a new diversity of space visions, ranging from postcolonial critique of Soviet and contemporary Russian space policy to global liberal notions and new imperial visions.

  • 3.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    After Space Utopia: Post-Soviet Russia and Futures in Space2023Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Since the early 2000s, new projects of space expansionism have emerged, including the commercial-, military-driven and scientific projects to colonize the Moon and Mars. The new space expansionism followed a period of comparatively lower attention to space in international politics, and it is sometimes called the New Space Race by analogy to the 20th century Space Race between the USSR and the US. With the first Space Race, outer space became explicitly politicized and served as a locus of futuristic utopian social and political imagination, not least in the USSR and the socialist bloc. In this dissertation, I investigate the possible ways of constructing alternative social and political futures in and through space in post-Soviet Russia. Drawing theoretically on postcolonial critique of space expansionism, the concepts of biopolitical production and of assemblage, and methodologically on narrative analysis, I argue that social and political futurism in and through space today presupposes changing attitudes to space and time in a way that challenges analyses from the angles of political science and IR. In this thesis, I highlight socially and politically futuristic practices which exist on the margins of political power and have greater autonomy from official discourse, arguing for the understanding of utopia in postmodernity as an assemblage.

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    After Space Utopia: Post-Soviet Russia and Futures in Space
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  • 4.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Is the Future Soviet?: USSR-2061 and the Reality of Utopia2021In: Praktyka Teoretyczna, ISSN 2081-8130, Vol. 41, no 3, p. 193-228Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    USSR-2061 is a Russian futuristic online project that imagi-nes a new USSR a century after Gagarin’s journey into space. This article connects the project to Soviet space utopianism and the nostalgia that followed it, while seeing USSR-2061 and its artefacts in the light of utopian studies. In particular, the project’s hesitation with regard to utopianism and its thirst for realism are situated within a classical utopian problem of how to achieve real, not only imaginary, transfor-mations. Such realism generally coincides with Levitas’ (2013) framework of utopia as a method, and, as the analysis shows, it hinders the construction of “an image of a future” at which the project aims. Instead, the resulting narratives and visions commonly overlap with the official Russian political discourse that makes use of Soviet nostalgia, or fall into retrofuturistic replications of commonly satirized Soviet discourses. However, a different way of constructing utopia is also present in USSR-2061, even if it is never highlighted. To make utopia possible in anti-utopian times, one might need to rethink its place of possibility or topos. Theoretically, such an alternative is presented in connection to Latour’s (2017) Terrestrial, a place with agency that in utopian terms presup-poses a transgression of the boundary between the real and imaginary, the political and cultural. In the same line, the paper argues that USSR-2061 might attempt the construction of a new utopia through rethinking space. This might be fostered through the inclusion of cosmist ideas such as those of Vladimir Vernadsky and Alexander Chizhevsky, whose intersections with Latourian framework have previously been observed. 

  • 5.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    “It Will Develop With or Without Us”: The NewSpace Politics of Expertise and Advocacy in Post-Soviet Russia2023In: Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Lines of Flight from Space Empire: Political Futures of Global Space Expansionism through Russian Imperial Space Fiction2023In: Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 7.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).
    Space nostalgia: the future that is only possible in the past: Why has the Day of Cosmonautics, April 12, never becomea national holiday in Russia?2022In: Baltic Worlds, ISSN 2000-2955, E-ISSN 2001-7308, no 1-2, p. 52-56Article in journal (Other academic)
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    fulltext
  • 8.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Through the Thorns to Where? The Politics of Alternative Appropriations of Soviet Space Culture in Contemporary Russia2022In: Space policy, ISSN 0265-9646, E-ISSN 1879-338X, Vol. 61, article id 101488Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article investigates the political implications of contemporary Russian cultural artifacts that appropriate Soviet space culture. Scholarship on Soviet and post-Soviet space history, increasingly interested in cultural production, highlights the transformation of Soviet space into usable history for the Russian regime. Nostalgia for Soviet space facilitates nation-building, allows political and economic capitalization on behalf of many state-affiliated actors, and lubricates the commodification of Soviet space heroism. In this article, such appropriations are discussed in terms of a neo-heroic Soviet space narrative characteristic of Russian space culture. This narrative, which principally performs a function of legitimation, has significantly progressed in recent years. This becomes clear from the recent release of Russian historical space blockbusters. However, other attempts to use Soviet space are also present. This article suggests two other narratives that attempt to appropriate Soviet space culture: the globalized Soviet science fiction (SF) narrative, and the “futuristic realist” narrative of constructing a new USSR. In both cases, there seems to be an attempt to change a nostalgic orientation of post-Soviet space culture, offering futuristic visions instead. While such attempts are not unproblematic, this article argues that they also deserve attention, especially if we want to better understand Russia's present stance and future alternatives in the new space race. Places such as Russian space museums are especially interesting in how they appropriate Soviet space culture and history, given that they seem to integrate narratives and maneuver between them. Performing both legitimizing and futuristic functions, Russian space museums are places where a new master narrative of Russian space, connected to the Soviet one, might appear.

  • 9.
    Vidal, F.
    et al.
    UiT the Arctic University of Tromsø, Norway.
    Privalov, Roman
    Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.
    Russia in Outer Space: A Shrinking Space Power in the Era of Global Change2023In: Space policy, ISSN 0265-9646, E-ISSN 1879-338X, article id 101579Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Since 2014, the Russian space sector has handled institutional rearrangement and external economic pressure. On the one hand, the establishment of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos intended to renovate a critical segment and save an industry that is one of the jewels of the Soviet legacy. On the other hand, the Russian annexation of Crimea triggered waves of financial and economic sanctions that crippled the country's access to space technologies and broader international cooperation in outer space. As a result of the dynamic, the Russian space program has been in a grey zone in recent years. On the eve of the war in Ukraine, the Russian government made a strategic choice for total decoupling from Western countries. The Russian decision stresses a trajectory already taken where space activities are increasingly becoming an instrument of deterrence. The military dimension increasingly defines the Russian space program, while LEO becomes an area for confrontation. To circumvent complete isolation in the international arena, Russia will attempt to maintain vigorous diplomatic actions to curb the technology desert and maintain vital space activities in the foreseeable future. Hence, this article aims to identify available tools that Russia may use to envision a new strategy in outer space. Considering the rupture between the West and Russia, we describe the long-term effects on the space industry. We finally highlight potential alternative cooperations that may allow Russia to build its space diplomacy around a network of peripheral states while the partnership with China remains restricted.

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