Anna Waclawek's book is an example of the new perspective on graffiti and street art. It focuses on the role or the graffiti and street art in urban visual environment and the role of urban space and urban visuality in production and perseption of these phenomena. The book introduces the system of codes and convention attached to street art and graffiti to the wide audience.
“Saturation” is the term suggested by the authors to describe the present state of the visual environment of Berlin, the city that acquired a reputation as the European capital of street art. Saturation is a consequence of the gradual infiltration of graffiti and street art into everyday life and the visual environment of Berlin, and their acceptance by city residents. Berliners’ fondness for street imagery is enhanced by the experience and memory of the independent reappropriation and rearrangement of urban space the city underwent after unification. The memory of the Berlin Wall plays a significant role in sustaining Berlin graffiti and street art cultures. It makes evident the history of the images and their creators and their role in urban communication. Simultaneously it normalizes the ephemerality of street imagery. Visual saturation in Berlin is complemented by the activities of “mediators,” who draw various audiences’ attention to graffiti and street art and encourage the interaction of all interested parties. In English, extended summary in Russian.
Introduction to a thematic issue entitled "Russia/former USSR/Latin America: Studies in Post-Authoritarian Transformation." Because of language barriers and a lack of institutionalized ties, the impressive literature on democratization in each of these areas is virtually unknown to authors from the other region. The striking similarities between the former Soviet Union and Latin America are best studied through comparison based on ground-level fieldwork. This approach highlights the blind spots of standard democratization and free-market modernization theory, which tends to universalize scenarios of economic development without paying sufficient attention to case studies. The introduction outlines the conceptual shift from "transition" to "transformation" in the literature on democratization, and presents the articles in the issue as well as some of the challenges the editors faced in bringing authors from Latin America and the former USSR together.
The review highlights the significance of the anthropological perspective to the contemporary Russian city developed by the authors of the book. Describing the city through the lenses of the groups whose role in shaping the cityscape changed dramatically in last two decades, the book attracts attention to the new agents such as migrants, queer coomunities, youth subcultures contributing to the formation of new conventions and new practices of urban life. This perspective is important for understanding the urban life in Russia as shaped by everyday practices and interactions.
Ethnographic conceptualism refers to anthropology as a method of conceptual art but also, conversely, to the use of conceptual art as an anthropological research tool. Ethnographic conceptualism is ethnography conducted as conceptual art. This article introduces this concept and contextualizes it in art and anthropology by focusing on the following questions: What is gained by anthropology by explicitly bringing conceptualism into it? And, the other way around, what is gained by conceptualism when it is qualifi ed as “ethnographic”? What is “ethnographic” about this kind of conceptualism? What is “conceptualist” about this kind of ethnography?
This is a study of audience reactions to the exhibition Gifts to Soviet Leaders (Kremlin Museum, Moscow, 2006) that ranges from comments in the viewers’ response book to the decision of the Kremlin Museum to gift a copy of the exhibition catalog to President Vladimir Putin for his fi fty-fi fth birthday in 2007. My goal is to demonstrate how relations of knowledge, which confi gure this complex post-Soviet audience in the form of social memory, perform the gift and, vice versa, how gift giving performs these relations of knowledge and power. In doing so, this article contributes from a new angle to the gift theory and also to anthropological understandings of performativity. It is a study in “ethnographic conceptualism” that refers to anthropological themes and concepts as they can be used in conceptual art and also, conversely, to anthropology conducted as conceptual art.
Keywords: Gift; Knowledge; Gift/Knowledge; Performativity; Ethnographic Conceptualism; Conceptual Art; Power
The emergence of large shopping malls and shopping and entertainment complexes in St. Petersburg, as in many other Russian cities, was a hallmark of the early 2000s. The existing literature describes shopping centers as an example of the new consumer culture in changing post-socialist societies. This article treats them as public spaces and an arena for processes of social differentiation, social exclusion, and formation of new identities. Drawing on evidence from a qualitative study conducted in St. Petersburg in 2006-2008, it concludes that shopping centers, perceived as models of a "European" and "civilized" way of life, have become a quasi-public space for the "middle class," banishing members of marginal groups and "undesirable" patterns of behavior. At the same time, even the relatively homogeneous environment of shopping centers gets segmented: their customers create in-group social classifications.
Players and Arenas aims at promoting the strategic interaction perspective (SIP)—a theoretical effort to bridge the gap between the structural paradigm and cultural theories in political sociology and social movements studies. Structural approaches seek to establish causal links between relatively stable factors (features of the political and economic environment) and a movement’s emergence and success. The most influential of the structural approaches is political process theory, with its core concept of political opportunity (McAdam, McCarthy, and Zald 1996). Cultural theories call for more attention to emotions, morality, and choices made by protestors, claiming that these can help protesters recognize and create political opportunities for their movement’s development, thus allowing for more agency of movement actors.
A review on the book by Lida Oukaderova devoted to issues of space and materiality in the cinema of the Soviet 'Thaw'
In the current context of the globalization of science, excellence is most often associated with internationalization and assessed through high-impact “international” (English-language) publications. Taking Russian economic science as a case study, this paper argues that the strategies of internationalization of national disciplinary fields are primarily determined by the parameters of the global economics itself. My analysis of the Russian publications in economics covered by Web of Science demonstrates that the very repertoire of international publication strategies of Russian authors is determined by the transnational system of communication in economics. Economics papers from peripheral nations are essentially assigned to regional or “area studies” periodicals, which do not belong to the core of the discipline. Publication in top economics journals requires a specific “international” competency usually obtained through doctoral training at Anglo-American or equivalent PhD programs and generally implies a delocalization of research objects and questions.
This book is a long-awaited introductory text covering Russian history, politics, and culture through a distinctively anthropological lens. It is intended for undergraduates with no prior knowledge of the country and focuses on the public and political life of contemporary Russian society. Deliberately short, the text is divided into seven chapters. The chapters are prefaced by a six-page introduction and followed by a glossary, bibliography, and index. Each chapter follows a no-nonsense scheme, beginning with a “brief history” overview of the respective theme, which is then developed further in a general discussion and more detailed description of an “ethnographic close-up.”
The present review article analyzes the innovative book by the British film historian Rachel Morley devoted to the female role in Russian pre-revolutionary cinema (1900-10s)
The article analyses influences on the post-2012 Russian pension reform, focusing on influences ‘from below’. We identify four main controversial issues related to pension reform: changes in individual accumulative accounts, financing of the system, age of pension eligibility, and indexation of pensions to compensate for inflation. The article makes use of an analytical framework on welfare reforms developed by Fløtten that we use to identify four sets of influences on Russian pension reform: from above (high-level decision-makers), inside (state bureaucracy and professionals), outside (international organisations and policy learning) and below (civil society and public opinion). We argue that the reform has been driven by elites from above and inside who have largely protected the interests of current and near-term pensioners. Costs have been imposed mainly on current workers and future pensioners. The core of the paper focuses on influence from below and presents evidence on public opinion toward pension reform, the positions and influence of pensioners’ and other societal organizations, and the near-absence of protest. We argue that maintenance of current pensioners’ incomes, deferral of costs into the distant future, and the complex and often obscure nature of the reforms account for the lack of push-back from below. While Russian civil society remains weak, citizens have protested loss of social rights. Our paper explains the lack of societal engagement or protest in response to this major reform. The article is based on analysis of newspaper articles, civil society organisations’ web-pages, as well as academic and policy documents in Russian and English. The document analysis has been supplemented with 12 semi-structured interviews with a variety of pension reform experts.
Growing out of the history of social, psychological, and moral-philosophical delineations of class in former USSR, the tension between two aesthetic/ethical stances was brought to a particularly stark relief, and given a new interpretation, in a recent contestation of public space in a mid-size industrial Russian city. The article explores how the intellectualist and especially the dystopic mode of engagement with the world is juxtaposed with the “sensory utopia” sensibility that asserts not only the givenness but the goodness and the necessity of sensory and emotional embeddedness in one’s physical and social reality, as well as the obligation to strive for and to defend the right to uncomplicated pleasures. Instead of condemning the latter as reactionist recourse to “simpler pasts” growing out of traumas of postsocialism, I suggest exploring it as a phenomenon in its own right, a cultural resource, and an optimistic ground for the development of new urban, civic, and secular identities and collectivities.