Contextualizing sovereignty: A critical review of competing explanations of the Internet governance in the (so-called) Russian case

  • Polina Kolozaridi
  • Dmitry Muravyov

Abstract

In reference to Russia, the concept of “Internet sovereignty” is commonly used to evoke the state’s efforts to tighten its control over the Internet in order to consolidate a non-democratic political regime. Many scholars have discussed Russia’s “sovereign Internet law,” adopted in 2019, yet the precise meaning of both “sovereign” and “Internet” in this context has largely been overlooked. In this article, we attempt to problematize the use of both concepts by drawing on the history of the Internet in Russia to accentuate the structural asymmetries of power in “global” Internet governance. We argue that Russia’s Internet sovereignty claims, grasped in the context of these asymmetries, can be seen as an expression of counter-hegemonic tendencies. Moreover, a historical account of the Internet’s transformation in Russia problematizes a conception of “Internet sovereignty” as unitary and unchanging.

Author Biographies

Polina Kolozaridi

Social researcher focusing on the Internet. She coordinates a grassroots community of researchers called the Club for Internet and Society Enthusiasts (клуб любителей интернета и общества,). She holds courses about Internet studies and critical data studies at the Higher School of Economics.

Dmitry Muravyov

Visiting Scholar in the School of Politics and Governance, Faculty of Social Science at Higher School of Economics and a member of the Club for Internet and Society Enthusiasts (клуб любителей интернета и общества).

Published
2021-04-10
How to Cite
Kolozaridi, P., & Muravyov, D. (2021). Contextualizing sovereignty: A critical review of competing explanations of the Internet governance in the (so-called) Russian case. First Monday, 26(5). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v26i5.11687
Section
Articles