Conquest and violence: Neo-colonial metaphors in Makanin's Andegraund

Nina Wieda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This article explores metaphorical representations of the dynamics of internal colonialism in post-Soviet space in Vladimir Makanin's 1998 novel Andegraund, ili geroi nashego vremeni [Underground, or the Hero of Our Time]. The novel's protagonist narrator is the disgruntled subaltern in a situation of internal colonialism, where the distance between the dominant group and the subalterns is defined through cultural rather than ethnic distance. Despite his ostensibly anticolonial sentiment, the protagonist transpires to covet dominance within a colonial framework for himself and engages in metaphorical performances of conquest and non-metaphorical performances of violence to establish himself in that role. He draws on Russian literary tropes to inform his relationship with power and his nostalgia for colonialism circa the nineteenth-century Russian empire, where (he seems to believe) his ethnicity and education would have landed him in the dominant group. Metaphorical performances of colonial processes, simplified, distilled, and projected onto a comically miniature scale, reveal the crude essence of the processes: their cyclicality, and their dependence on power vacuums and privatization of violence. The imagery of psychiatric drugs used politically to break down dissidents works both as a narrative of practices of internal colonization, and as a metaphor for an army invading a sovereign nation. In the end, the novel reveals the persistent nature of internal colonialism in Russia, which endures on the psychological level even after the political situation changed, thus making the prefix "post-" in "Russian postcolonialism" only a temporal, and not a conceptual, marker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPostcolonial Slavic Literatures After Communism
PublisherPeter Lang AG
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783631697481
ISBN (Print)9783631668566
StatePublished - Feb 6 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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