How to Make Precarious Russia Habitable – or, What Russians Want in Putin’s Fourth Term



An enduring irony of life in small-town Russia, according to Morris, is that the structural causes of its fragility and decline – dependent on a single-Soviet-era company – are also the cause for its resilience. Morris referred to this phenomenon as “compressed social geography,” which emerges from the overwhelmingly blue-collar nature of this town that sustains solidarities, networks and moral values inherited from the socialist period.

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Yellow Star, Red Star: Holocaust Remembrance After Communism



Professor Subotic analyzed the commonplace conflation of communism with fascism across Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, and other Eastern European states. “Many of the museums and memorials have begun depicting their entire nation-state as victims of foreign regimes,” said Professor Subotic. By doing so, they not only ignored the lived experience of victims of those historical regimes but also avoided any critical self-examination of crimes that local populations were complicit in, such as the crimes of the Holocaust, or the crimes committed by the Soviet dictatorship.

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Impeachment – From the Ukrainian Perspective



Amid the ongoing impeachment scandal, the perspective from Ukraine has largely gone unnoticed. On January 23rd, as part of its New York City — Russia Public Policy Series in collaboration with Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, the Jordan Center hosted a panel of experts to consider what the scandal could mean for Ukrainian citizens, Ukraine’s relations with Russia, and Russia and Ukraine’s relations with the U.S. moving forward.

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The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects



Soldiers are constructing whatever they can: Oil cans become stoves, artillery shells become kerosene lamps, overcoat fabric becomes wicks. Government officials regularly checked these trench “cities” for proper ventilation, light, heat and nutrition. They also became grounds for officials to disseminate the war’s goals and for connecting people from diverse regions, classes and ethnic groups.

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The Great Chernobyl Acceleration



One researcher in search of definitive answers to long-term health effects from Chernobyl has a radical idea about how to accelerate cleanup of the accident’s contamination: Buy the radioactive berries local residents pick, and dispose of them as nuclear waste.

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Boris Groys – “The Cold War Between the Medium and the Message: Western Abstract Art vs. Socialist Realism.”



The powers of the post-WWII period began to politicize the struggle between realism and avant-garde modernism. The West, Groys argued, believed that socialist realism was just another version of fascist propaganda art, while the Soviet state saw the West’s continuation of modern avant-garde art as a form of its own fascism, in its rejection of the European humanist tradition.

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Post-Soviet, Post-Industrial, Post-Future: Rethinking Space After the End of Communism



Images of decay across the territory of the former USSR – starkly physical symbols of the broken promises of communism – are  one result of this economic collapse. While in the center of Moscow former factories such as Vinzavod, Artplay, and Red October have been turned into hip gallery spaces, helping to transform run-down neighborhoods into cosmopolitan hotspots, throughout the rest of Russia many factories remain derelict spaces–as is dramatically evident in the Hammer and Sickle metallurgical plant.

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Medicine and Mortality in the Gulag



A prevailing argument in Gulag academia posits that the cruelty and inhumanity in Stalinist camps was never deliberate or “centrally coordinated”, but rather a product of incompetence, shortages, depletion of resources, and other “external factors” such as the harsh Siberian climates. But in her book Illness and Inhumanity in Stalin’s Gulag, Dr. Golfo Alexopoulos argues, contrary to popular Gulag literature, that Stalinist camps were actually more akin to death camps: a “highly coordinated system of violent human exploitation” to a “degree not previously documented.”

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Monumental Politics: The Power of Public Memory in Putin’s Russia



The contemporary revival and politicization of Russia’s history begins with references to the glories of Kievan Rus, and progresses onwards through Soviet history. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Johnson argued, Russia was left with an identity crisis caused by the vacancy of Soviet ideology. The Russian state therefore looked towards public space, as “control of symbolic public spaces was always very important.”

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School of Europeanness: Tolerance and Other Lessons in Political Liberalism in Latvia



As Latvia has moved towards Europeanization in the post-Soviet period, the country has faced a set of somewhat contradictory demands from European institutions: it has been expected to “draw a variety of boundaries around liberal democratic states and policies, while at the same time emphasizing the virtues of inclusion openness and tolerance.”

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“Socialist Orientalism: Aleksandr Rodchenko’s and Varvara Stepanova’s Ten Years of Uzbekistan”, a talk with Nariman Skakov



Rodchenko and Stepanova’s album “Ten Years of Uzbekistan” was commissioned and produced in 1933, with the intent of producing a luxurious folio to commemorate the tenth-year anniversary of the Uzbek Socialist Soviet Republic. At the time, the Central Asian republic was considered “an exemplary space” for manifesting the Socialist goal.

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