Energy and identity: Imagining russia as a hydrocarbon superpower

Stefan Bouzarovski, Mark Bassin

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The relationship between energy systems, on the one hand, and narratives and practices of identity building at different scales, on the other, has received little attention in the mainstream human geography and social science literature. There is still a paucity of integrated theoretical insights into the manner in which energy formations are implicated in the rise of particular cultural self-determinations, even though various strands of work on energy and identity are frequently present throughout the wide-and rather disparate-corpus of social science energy research. Therefore, this article explores themanner in which the exploitation and management of energy resources is woven into discourses and debates about national identity, international relations, a nation's path of future development, and its significance on the global arena using the case of Russia. We investigate some of the policies, narratives, and discourses that accompany the attempt to represent this country as a global "energy superpower" in relation to the resurrection of its domestic economy and material prosperity, on the one hand, and the restoration of its global status as a derzhava (or "Great Power"), on the other. Using ideas initially developed within the field of critical discourse analysis, we pay special attention to the national identity-building role played by geographical imaginations about the country's past and present energy exports to neighboring states. We argue that they have created a hydrocarbon landscape in which the discursive and material have become mutually entangled to create an infrastructurally grounded vision of national identity. © 2011 by Association of American Geographers Initial submission, March 2010.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-794
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • Energy
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Identity
  • Nation
  • Russia


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