Rethinking “The Archives” in the Aftermath of Russia’s War in Ukraine, Part II

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Instead of giving funding for travel to archives in Russia, funding should be determined by the project itself. Scholars should be able to propose travel to a variety of places in the US or elsewhere other than Russia. The needs of the project would determine the places where research would be done. This would avoid fetishizing the Russian archives. Travel to Russia is not the main point. Collecting relevant material for a dissertation or other scholarly project is.

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How Will Our Scholarship On Nineteenth-Century Russian Culture Change In Response To Russia’s War On Ukraine?

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On May 25, 2022, six scholars—all primarily Russia specialists—responded to the question of how scholarship on nineteenth-century Russian culture would change in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. The present grouping of thought pieces, written by five of our six original participants, grew out of the online event. We are grateful to Ab Imperio for bringing these informal mini-essays to a wider audience in such a timely way, and we hope the articles will help advance our field’s urgent discussion of how best to move forward.

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Ukraine’s Post-Soviet Legion? Foreign Fighters from the Former Soviet Union in Ukraine

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Foreign fighters hailing from the former Soviet Union are more numerous, and better incorporated into Ukraine’s armed forces, than ever before. Their language skills, experience of post-Soviet armed conflicts, and shared post-Soviet heritage make them far more manageable and effective for Ukraine than more diverse units populated by Western volunteers.

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Communist Activism in Soviet Industry and State-Society Relations in the Interwar USSR

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The Primary Party Organization was neither an instrument of managerial despotism nor a dysfunctional bureaucracy that workers exploited to deflect pressures on their living standards. Instead, it was a complicated, contradictory institution that both extended the reach of state power over society, and limited the control of the state over the concrete implementation of policy.

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Private or Public? Changes in the Use of Russian and Ukrainian Following the Russian Invasion

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In my recent experience leading English classes for Ukrainian refugees, I have noticed students fluidly moving between Russian and Ukrainian. This phenomenon is well-documented across Ukraine, and there’s no need to rehash it here. I’ll admit, however, to being surprised: wouldn’t war with Russia, the symbol of the Russian language (and home of its institutions, such as the Pushkin Institute of the Russian Language), produce antipathy toward it, at the very least? And wouldn’t this antipathy lead people to abandon Russian en masse in order to assert their Ukrainian patriotism and difference?

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Paralysis of Complicity in Dmitri Prigov and Beyond: How to Do Things With Metaphors Now?

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For many of us who feel complicit—through language, citizenship, or background—in the crimes Russia is carrying out in Ukraine right now, it feels necessary to reassess the metaphors we have been using in discourse and fiction. Do the figures of power that these metaphors represent preserve and prescribe the status quo (which does not even seem to be “just” a status quo anymore)?

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The Philosopher-Dictator: A Review of Geoffrey Roberts’ “Stalin’s Library”

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Roberts never defends Stalin or his crimes, but he does affirm Stalin’s rationality, arguing that Stalin’s actions can be understood in light of his ideas. His steadfast pursuit of communist utopia, as expressed in Marxist ideology and the politics of class warfare, produced the politics of purge and famine that defined the Soviet 1930s. It was political principle, not personal psychosis, that led Stalin to act as he did.

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A Vicious Circle: How Did Russia End Up “Surrounded by Enemies”?

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In a years-long attempt to reassert its influence in neighboring post-Soviet countries, and secure its borders from the West, Moscow has consistently been creating enemies along its borders. As of 2022, Russia is more than ever surrounded by hostile nations. The reason is Moscow’s unsustainable foreign policy, which creates more adversaries than allies, and thereby contradicts its strategic interests in the long run. 

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“Empire V” meets Generation “Z”: The Awkward Business of a Would-Be Blockchain Blockbuster in Wartime

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With seventy percent of shooting complete and a budget shortfall of 235 million rubles, “Empire V”‘s filmmakers turned to a novel form of fundraising: cryptocurrency. An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) of “Bablos” tokens—named for the money-like substance that the vampires in Pelevin’s novel consume instead of blood—offered fans the chance to partake in a “first of its kind” cinematic crowdfunding project.

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Gorbachev and Putin

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In the outpouring of commentary following the death of Mikhail Gorbachev at age 91 there seems to be a broad consensus about his varying historical legacy, East and West: he is both lauded in the West and loathed inside Russia.

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