On Friday, February 23rd please join us for a talk with Jessica Pisano from the New School for Social Research on “Political Theatre in Russia and Ukraine”. This event is part of the Occasional Series, sponsored by the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.
Presidential contests in Russia have long been glossed as “fake” elections. But uncompetitive elections are much more than mere simulacra: they are complex theatrical productions that express and produce their own politics, and people’s experience of the tools of economic persuasion and coercion that surround them is real.
This talk draws upon long-term ethnographic research in Russia and Ukraine to analyze performances in both countries that express support for existing political orders. It argues that the practice of political theatre—from elections to elite-led social movements—has rewritten social contracts, redrawn boundaries between state and society, and changed the meanings people give to political participation. What is the relationship of such performances to the Soviet past, and what lessons do they suggest for how we theorize contemporary politics?
Jessica Pisano is Associate Professor and Chair of the Politics Department at the New School for Social Research. She is a longtime associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and has been an invited professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. She has been awarded numerous fellowships and is the recipient of NSF, NCEEER, SSRC, and SSHRC grants, among many others. In 2017 she received a university-wide award for distinguished teaching at The New School.
Pisano’s research focuses on contemporary and twentieth century politics and political economy of Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine, Russia, and Hungary. She is currently completing a book about the political economy of political theatre in post-Soviet space and working on a twentieth-century history of a single rural street in Eastern Europe. Her prize-winning book, The Post-Soviet Potemkin Village: Politics and Property Rights in the Black Earth was published by Cambridge University Press in 2008. Her work has appeared in journals such as East European Politics and Societies, Journal of Peasant Studies, Problems of Post-Communism, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, and World Politics, among many others, and as chapters in edited volumes.