The author surveys the recent Russian-language “post-millennium” historiography of the history of conservative ideology and discourse in imperial Russia, concentrating particularly on several works written by Alexander Repnikov, Iurii Minakov, and Igor Lukoianov who represent some newly-appeared centers of conservatism studies in Moscow, Voronezh, and St. Petersburg, respectively.
In his detailed and quite a nuanced analysis, Suslov pessimistically points out that the thriving scholarship can hardly generate a serious unbiased research, say nothing of new discourses or conceptualizations, based on truly academic standards. In most cases, mistreatment of research methods in intellectual history and, importantly, insufficient knowledge of historical context have a “side-effect” that presupposes an uncritical reassessment of Russian history as specifically a history of conservatism, on the one side, and lowers academic standards, on the other. In fact, it often seems that the Soviet-styled “history of the Party” is being transformed into the history of a mythic monolith-like omnipresent conservative “party” (thus associating the “evolution of conservatism” with major political developments in the Romanov’s Empire). Even worse are instances when, as the article concludes, scholars turn to apologetics and hagiographic presentation of biographical peculiarities, petty facts, and images completely immune to any professional judgment.
Suslov pays much attention to this wrong methodology and identifies several traps, such as the “intuitive” approach, historical fundamentalism, and textualism. He suggests possible remedies to these pitfalls (viewed in general as a complex problem of addiction to old-fashioned meta-narratives) in bringing together the methods of cultural history and intellectual biography.