Alexander Volkov: of Sand and Silk
In September 2012 Christie’s will present ‘Of Sand and Silk’, the first European solo-exhibition of the prominent Russian artist Alexander Volkov (1886-1957). The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue. Volkov was born in the Fergana valley into the family of a Russian military doctor. He achieved significant lifetime recognition for his depictions of Central Asia, his paintings uniquely combining cutting-edge Western painterly styles with the inspiration he drew from traditional Central Asian craftsmanship. Volkov loved his homeland passionately and often repeated: “One does not need the whole world. A small part will suffice”.
Iran has remained one of the most effective tools in Russia's foreign policy towards the West for more than two hundred years. Drawing on previously unpublished and recently declassified sources which change the established wisdom on many aspects of the history of Russia and Iran, Denis V. Volkov examines this relationship, and situates it within the broader context of Oriental studies. With a particular focus on the activities of scholars-diplomats, as well as scholars involved in academia, missionary activities and the military within their own professional domains, Volkov analyses the interaction of intellectuals with state structures and their participation in the process of shaping and conducting foreign policy towards Iran. This work explores the specific institutional practices of Russia's Oriental studies, including organisation of scholarly intelligence networks, taking advantage of state power for the promotion of institutional and individual interests, and profound engagement with Russia's domestic and foreign policy discourses of its time.
Joel R. Poinsett is a fascinating, yet forgotten, figure in United States history. He had a long political and diplomatic career as one of the most travelled US officials in the first half of the 19th century. In 1806-1808 he travelled to and through Russia, met Tsar Alexander I, and contrasted in his letters and diary the differences between Russian and American political and social systems. Poinsett also knew the “Oriental Russia”, for he went to the Volga and Caucasus regions. His anecdotes and those of his companion, the British Lord Royston (previously unedited), are extremely interesting as testimonies of Russian Orientalism which are presented here for the first time in over a century.
This article draws attention to one of the neglected aspects of trolling in current literature: its potential to stand as a form of cultural politics that may inform counter-hegemonic challenges to prevalent ideologies. Rather than merely perceiving trolling as a threat to normality or a proof of the internet’s dystopic character, we look at the ways that certain trolls employ the method of ‘subversive affirmation’ for effectively addressing current events, and to mock hegemonic ideological currents, lifestyles and contexts in Greece today. We argue that the trolls we study are positioned against the hegemonic neoliberal framework and its attempts to achieve consensus on the supposed necessity of austerity reforms and the maintenance of the euro currency, as well as against a prevailing conservativism and nationalism that blend with the broader neoliberal assemblage of discourses, policies and practices in Greek society. By developing a thematic analysis on selected Facebook trolls’ posts, we discuss the ways that trolls function politically, transgressing the limits of the hegemonic discourses and identities, as well as the norms of mediated dialogue, deliberation and critique. The key mechanisms deployed by the trolls are the overlapping practices of over-identification and humour. This article suggests seeing trolling as a form of cultural production that not only damages, but redirects desires, produces identifications and instils passionate investments in political ideologies.
The book discusses the principal aspects of description of the East in the Western scholarly discourse as well as in art and literature. An analysis of the interpretations of the East by the West (and vice versa) and their historical evolution has emerged as especially important in the light of ongoing globalization, which has triggered the intensifi cation of ideological, religious, economic and cultural differences between the East and the West. The goal of the book is to distill a critical understanding of Orientalist / Occidentalist discourses and to question cross-cultural assumptions.
The article begins with contextualising the Russian Empire’s many-fold presence in Persia at the fin de siècle and the condition of Russia’s Persian studies therein. As the results of undertaken archival research support, Russia’s ‘Iranists’ quite often had a crucial impact on the course of international affairs, securing and extending the sphere of Russian imperial influence not only in the Greater Persianate World but also directly affecting the peripeteia of European politics. Thus the article explores Vladimir Minorsky’s early scholarly and professional career as a budding diplomat of Imperial Russia and focuses on his participation in the 1913-1914 activities of the Russo-Brito-Turko-Iranian Quadripartite Boundary Commission, which, exactly one hundred years ago, drew almost 1200 miles of the Iranian present-day western frontier. Finally, the article reveals what implications the outcomes of these activities (whose inspirer was mainly Minorsky) have had for Iran during these hundred years, particularly in relation to the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war.
The paper draws on the conceptualisation of the interplay of power/knowledge relations, discourses, and institutional and personal interests. The study of Minorsky’s activities is carried out based on the unpublished materials derived from his private diaries and the testimonies of the British officers who were members of the Commission.
Orientalism can be defined as a historical and cultural event, which has been uniting various aspects of cultural life for a number of centuries—literature, fine art, architecture, music and philosophy. A "vision" of the East—positive or negative—based on imagination or historic facts, it has generated an exotic image in our consciousness, which has its own right to existence. At a crucial and timely moment in the history of relations between the West and Islam, this book provides the context and essential background to understanding this part of the world and the intense debate on this theme. The art-biographer of the XVIII-century Ottoman Empire Franco-Flemish artist Jean Baptiste Vanmour (1671–1737) left a very important legacy—pictorial evidences which can be considered as historical illustrations of all the aspects of XVIII-century Ottoman life: from diplomatic ceremonies in the Ottoman court to everyday events of Istanbul multinational society. It will be of strong interest to scholars of Middle East studies, anthropology, history, cultural studies, post-colonial studies, and literary studies.
This article examines subjects and decorative sources of orientalism inRussian porcelain ofthe 18th and 19th centuries. It seems important to single out stages ofthe incremental development of orientalist motifs in Russian porcelain and describe their evolution. Additionally, the authors aim to clarify why orientalist motifs were chosen by porcelain collectors and buyers and what role they played in arts and crafts in Russian Empire at different times. The article presents a consistent analysis ofthe evolution of orientalist motifs in 18th–19th centuries Russian porcelain. This study employs methods of formal and stylistic analysis. The use of these methods allows the authors to study the stylistic origins of orientalist motifs answering the question regarding the framework of its stylistic tradition and why a fashion emerged for the motifs described in this research. Furthermore, the researchers use the historical-genetic method trying to trace the emergence and development of the phenomenon of orientalist motifs on the basis of literature, historical sources, and porcelain objects. By applying methods of historical analysis and cultural analysis, this paper investigates and highlights the historical background of the emergence and development of orientalist motifs in Russian porcelain. Additionally, these methods are appropriate to understand how the taste preferences of customers of porcelain in the Russian Empire between the second half ofthe 18th and the 19th centuries influenced the stylistic formation of orientalist motifs.
A major international conference, “Orientalism / Occi dentalism: The Languages of Cultures vs. the Languages of Description”, took place from September 23–25, 2010, in Moscow under the aegis of the Russian Institute for Cultural Research. The goal of the Conference was to discuss the principal aspects of description of the East (fi rst of all Asian but also African cultures) in the Western scholarly discourse as well as in art and literature. The idea of the Conference belonged to the current author who, in the Fall of 2008, enlisted the support of Prof. Kirill Razlogov, Director of the Russian Institute for Cultural Research, as a result of which the Institute played a crucial role in the following two-year preparations
This article does not pretend to criticize or to pay tribute to the theoretical discussion on the nature of colonial knowledge and the way it should be treated. Its main aim is to track the change in a scholar’s methodological approach toward his local assistants that actually affected both sides of this interaction. That was the key factor in the creation of colonial knowledge. Thus, I suggest showing how this interaction was used by both sides for their own benefit and what the strategies and foundations were for that kind of relationship. As the main case for this study, I have chosen Russian Turkologist-encyclopedist Alexander Samoilovich. Almost yearly from 1900 to 1936, Samoilovich attempted to visit regions inhabited by Turkic-speaking groups, and as a result, he was able to form a network of assistants. Therefore, Samoilovich's ideas and self-reflection are crucial for understanding his multiple contacts with the Others and the consequences of these interactions.