Between “ethnocide” and “genocide”: violence and Otherness in the coverage of the Afghanistan and Chechnya wars

Casula, Philipp (2015). Between “ethnocide” and “genocide”: violence and Otherness in the coverage of the Afghanistan and Chechnya wars. Nationalities Papers, 43(5), pp. 700-718. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/00905992.2015.1048673

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The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the two Russian wars in Chechnya were the longest, most protracted conflicts of the USSR and Russia after WWII. Both were conducted under conditions of unprecedented violence in peripheral territories. Despite their distance in time and space, both wars are closely linked to each other on the level of cultural representations in contemporary Russia. This paper analyses how the conflicts were represented in a key Soviet and Russian newspaper as the wars unfolded. It analyses the textual and visual coverage of the wars in the Krasnaia zvezda (1980-1986; 2000-2003), in order to disclose changing interpretations of violence and the Other. The paper argues, firstly, that Krasnaia zvezda told the story of two different types of violence prevailing in each conflict. The Afghan case was presented as one that put the social and cultural transformation of the population at the center of its attention – violence was hence not only physical and excessive but also cultural, as it aimed at the social fabric of society. The Chechen case focused on the recapture of territory and the restoration of sovereignty. Therefore, physical violence appeared more bluntly in the coverage of the conflict. Secondly, the paper shows that these two different types of violence implied two different visions of the Other. In Afghanistan, the Other was represented as becoming more and more similar to the socialist Self. This dynamic is visually underscored by numerous images of Afghans who have embarked on the path to Soviet modernity. In Chechnya, in contrast, the Other was presented as traditional, backward, and immutable. The Other was usually reduced to complete cultural difference and depicted a dehumanized fashion. This orientalization of the Other was a precondition for the use of excessive physical violence.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

UniBE Contributor:

Casula, Philipp Piero




Taylor & Francis


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Philipp Piero Casula

Date Deposited:

18 Jul 2018 15:25

Last Modified:

18 Jul 2018 15:27

Publisher DOI:





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