Anti-Hegemonic Code-Switching: The Case of Odesa Poet Boris Khersonskii, Part I



In 2018, Boris Khersonskii, Ukraine’s most famous Russian-language poet, wrote on Facebook—in Ukrainian: “My credo is: in Odesa, obstruct the Russian language gently, but oppose boorishness on the part of Russian cultural stars decisively. I write this as a mostly Russophone person.” What triggered this turn against Russian by one of its most sophisticated artistic users? Is the shift to Ukrainian in Khersonskii’s linguistic practice consistent and irreversible? And, if a leading Russophone poets takes such a dim view of the language, can the end of Russian-language literature in what the Russian state arrogantly calls its “near abroad” be far behind?

Continue reading...

The Politburo Goes Hunting: Masculinity, Nature, and Power in the Soviet Union



Characterized by informality, a tendency to personalize official relationships, and, perhaps above all, by a desire to assert strength and power through a display of manliness, Soviet diplomacy often required a ritual demonstration of marksmanship skills and physical agility in order to challenge and rewrite the image of Soviet leaders as aging and inept apparatchiks.

Continue reading...

Socrates in Russia, Part II

and



In May 2022, while wrapping up edits on my contribution to Socrates in Russia amidst a stream of dreadful news from the Ukrainian front, I learned that the eighteenth-century estate where Skovoroda spent his final years, and nearby which he was laid to rest, was destroyed by Russian air strikes. Hryhoriy Skovoroda is still here, invisibly, in our cultural memory. Our world has once again become the one that Skovoroda despised, described as “flesh and whips and tears.” No to war.

Continue reading...

Socrates in Russia, Part I

and



The story of Socrates has long been a vessel for interpretation. Philosophers, writers, and artists in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Soviet and post-Soviet space have actively participated in this process, creating their own Socrateses for their respective eras and environments.

Continue reading...