All the Russias' Blog

A space for news and opinion, sponsored by The Jordan Center

Exhibition Review: “Russia — My History” at Moscow’s VDNKh

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Moscow: at the newly renovated VDNKh (Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy), a multimedia, multi-city mega-exhibition called “Russia – my history” is open to visitors at Pavilion No. 57. Hosted at the location of the former “Disneyland” of the multi-ethnic Soviet Union, “Russia – my history” explores the formation of the new Russian national identity in what organizers are calling a “historical park.” It is a sobering look at what national history looks like in today’s Russia.

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Review: Vijay Menon’s “A Brown Man in Russia”

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In 2013, twenty-year-old Duke undergraduate Vijay Menon embarked on a train journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Russia to Mongolia. He subsequently gave a TEDx talk about this trip and later turned it into a book, complete with photographs of the trip: “A Brown Man in Russia: Lessons Learned on the Trans-Siberian.”

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Getting One Thing Straight: “Postmodernists” Are Not the Problem

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Discussions of Trump and Putin as “Postmodern politicians” come in many different forms and degrees of sophistication. My own modest contribution is intended only to dispel a bit of confusion that afflicts many in these discussions: “postmodern” politicians are not the “result” of “postmodernist theories” or of a “postmodern movement.” Such an idea fundamentally misconstrues both postmodernism and our current political and cultural situation.

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The Power of the Past

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Ten years ago, when I began writing a series of novels set in Russia during the minority of Ivan the Terrible, since published under the pen name C. P. Lesley, the last thing I expected was for the books to have present-day relevance. What I wanted, more than anything, was to produce historical fiction that accurately reflected what scholars have learned about social, political, and cultural life in Muscovy, ideas developed in great detail yet still missing, with rare exceptions, even from college textbooks.

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Speak, Memory: The Case of Yuri Dmitriev, Part I

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Dmitriev spent a good part of the 1990s in FSB archives examining case files on purge victims. After finding gaps in the lists, he asked for protocols from NKVD “troikas” – special three-person tribunals created to act as judge and jury in rigged trials. Those documents contained confirmation that death sentences had been carried out. But Dmitriev wasn’t allowed to copy or photograph them. So he would spend all day in the archives, reciting the information into a dictaphone.

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Dispatch from Moscow: Observing the World Cup

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Just steps from the Mausoleum, fans could participate in a mock World Cup soccer match, buy refreshments, or try their luck kicking a ball against the “highly skilled” Robokeeper — the venue’s most popular attraction, which offered amateur players the opportunity to “test the accuracy and power of [their] kick.” 

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Russia is building a new Napster — but for academic research

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What will future historians will see as the major Russian contribution to early 21st-century Internet culture? It might not be troll farms and other strategies for poisoning public conversation — but rather, the democratization of access to scientific and scholarly knowledge. Over the last decade, Russian academics and activists have built free, remarkably comprehensive online archives of scholarly works. What Napster was to music, the Russian shadow libraries are to knowledge.

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