Whether it be of Robert E. Lee, Tsar Nicholas II, Huey Long or the head of the NKVD Feliks Dzerzhinsky, political statuary evokes a range of impassioned responses from groups as varied as the Proud Boys and Identity Evropa in the United States, to the Double-Headed Eagle and Izborsk Club in the Russian Federation. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017 protested the removal of an equestrian monument to Lee, and brought about the murder of Heather Heyer. In this talk, Professor Alexandar Mihailovic will compare the neo-Confederate advocacy for the preservation of syncretic ‘Celtic’ origins of the Old South to recent Russian nationalist efforts to reconcile the Orthodox Church’s stricture against devotional statuary with the totem worship practiced by the growing neo-pagan ‘Native Belief’ (rodnoverie) movement in Russia.
Alexandar Mihailovic is Visiting Professor of Literature at Bennington College. He is the author of Corporeal Words: Mikhail Bakhtin’s Theology of Discourse, and the editor of the volume Tchaikovsky and His Contemporaries. He co-edited, with Helga Druxes and Karolin Machtans, Navid Kermani, a volume of articles about the contemporary Iranian-German essayist and novelist. His most recent book, The Mitki and the Art of Postmodern Protest in Russia (University of Wisconsin Press, 2018), will be also be published in a Russian translation in Fall 2019, by the New Literary Review (Novoe Literatrunoe Obozrenie) in Moscow. He has contributed reviews to the online journal Kinokultura: New Russian Cinema, and has published articles on religious studies, nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian and Ukrainian literature, cultural relations during the Cold War, and LGBTQ identities in Russia. He is currently working on a book about whiteness, gender, and race in contemporary far-right movements in the Russian Federation and the United States.