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Feeling Stateless: Nomad Aesthetics and the Collapse of the Soviet Empire (with Leah Feldman)

November 12, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

As the post-Trump pandemic moment registers waves of intertwining political, social, economic and environmental crisis, it also echoes the long durée collapse of the Soviet empire. This talk attends to the ways in which the fall of the Soviet empire from the 1980s to the early 1990s rendered legible an imperial politics of difference and, in turn, the rise of ethno-nationalism in the region (and beyond). Art produced amidst the collapse shaped new forms of politics, in particular conceptions of difference that focalized around ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Taking the vantage of conceptual and performance art from the Soviet imperial “periphery” in the Caucasus and Central Asia, I discuss Rustam Khalfin’s Nomad aesthetics in 1990s Kazakhstan as an alternative anti-statist post-Soviet vision—or sensorium…

Leah Feldman is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago. Her research explores empire, nationalism, and forms of radical resistance, attending to forms of difference and belonging in the former Soviet empire across its formation and collapse. Her current book project, “Feeling Collapse,” discusses theatre, film, and art in Central Asia and the Caucasus amidst the collapsing sensorium of the Soviet Union. She is the author of On the Threshold of Eurasia: Orientalism and Revolutionary Aesthetics in the Caucasus (2018, winner of the CESS book award). Her work has also appeared in boundary2, Slavic Review, AbImperio, The Global South, and The Drama Review, and she serves on the editorial collective for boundary2 and b2o. She is currently cowriting an anti-imperial ABCs (Azbuka) children’s book with the artist collective Slavs and Tatars.

This event will be held virtually as a Zoom meeting for non-NYU affiliates. NYU affiliates my attend the event in person at the Jordan Center. 


November 12, 2021
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm