2018 Annual David Davies Memorial Lecture: Ted Hopf

03 December 2015

A vidcast of the 2015 Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture is available HERE.


The 2015 Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture, hosted by the journal International Relations, was delivered by Professor Ted Hopf (National University Singapore) on Thursday 3 December. The David Davies Memorial Institute co-organized the event. 

Professor Hopf shed light on the discourses on Russian National Identity from 1992 to 2015. Specifically, he showed how the discursive construction of Crimea as returning to Russia became possible in the end. His starting point was the identification of liberal, centrist and conservative discourses. He outlined the development of these three lines of discourse on the key events over the last two decades. Since the early 1990s the centralist strand has emerged as a catch-all policy. The liberal discourse lost much of its salience due to the country’s weak economy, but regained some strength in the wake of 9/11. At that time, it was perceived as a way to join forces with the United States in the war on terror. During President Putin’s first term neoliberalism was the most salient pillar of the national identity. Elite discourse about the Soviet Union was in general more negative than the western media portrayed. Besides neoliberalism, discourse about development was vital to illustrate that Russia was still imperfect in terms of democracy and economy. Professor Hopf highlighted that during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency key discourses centred around the question of international standards. Following President Putin’s return to office, key elements which made the framing of Crimea as returning home possible, were the rediscovered imperialist notions paired with Russian regional leadership. These became prominent from 2012 onwards.


Following the well-attended lecture, audience in the Main Hall of the Department of International Politics engaged Professor Hopf in a vivid round of questions. These ranged widely and touched upon Russian narratives on President Putin, Russia’s rivalry with China in Central Asia, or the current military engagement in Syria.


Thanks are due to Sage Publications and the journal International Relations for sponsoring the Annual Kenneth Waltz Lecture Series. The DDMI would also like to thank the Department of International Politics for hosting the lecture.