Volume 75 Number 2 Abstracts

Reading Gogol’ in Azeri: Parodic Genealogies and the Revolutionary Geopoetics of 1905

Leah Feldman

This essay investigates the geopoetic strategies through which Muslim writers contributed to as well as undermined the consolidation of the Russian literary canon. Its central focus is the Azeri writer Celil Memmedquluzade's translation of Gogol's work, revealing the politicization of Gogol's poetics in the Muslim south Caucasus in 1905. Drawing upon Gogol's prose about the Russian provinces, its translation in the Caucasus, and its resurrection in literary theory, I illustrate the ways in which the poetics of the imperial provinces intersected with the Russian and Soviet imperial gaze, highlighting the internalizing force of imperial expansion as well as the radical alterity of the colonial experience. The early twentieth century was marked by a series of revolutionary upheavals in the imperial capital and periphery, as well as a Bolshevik ideological campaign to envision literature as an enlightened enterprise, that is, one characterized by both its scientific and political power. In dialectical fashion, the creation of a revolutionary poetics involved a repetition of Gogol's prose in order to reconcile and thus transcend the series of binaries associated with nineteenth century literature: center/periphery, oral/written, self/other. Gogol's resurrection in Memmedquluzade's translations and in the hands of his Formalist and postcolonial critics highlights the role of Russian imperial geopoetics in simultaneously sustaining and subverting a revolutionary literary culture

Tashkent ’68: a Cinematic Contact Zone

Rossen Djagalov and Masha Salazkina

This essay seeks to reconstruct the history of the first Tashkent Festival of Cinemas of Asia and Africa (1968). It offers an account of the festival as a highly heterogeneous and productive site for better understanding the complex relationship between the Soviet bloc and the Third World in the crucial moment between the victory of post-colonial independence movement and the end of the Cold War.

Scripted Spaces: The Geopoetics of the Newspaper from Tret’iakov to Prigov

Jacob Edmond

This essay examines Sergei Tret'iakov's and Dmitrii Prigov's turn to the newspaper in their search for a symbolic form adequate to the geopolitical flux at the beginning and endpoints of Soviet history. Fusing the epic and the sublime with the modernist montage principle, both present the newspaper as embodying simultaneously totalizing and disintegrative imaginings of space. Reflecting his avant-gardist and statist commitments, Tret'iakov's newspaper-epic and ocherk journalism figure the tension between socialist internationalism and socialism in one country and between federal and centralist models of the state. Prigov's newspaper art embodies the contrary pressures of resurgent nationalisms and globalization in perestroika-era and post-Soviet Russia. Having linked the decline of print culture to the Soviet Union's demise, Prigov addresses the return of an imperial Russian spatial imaginary by highlighting how the tension between spatial boundlessness and totality in the print newspaper anticipates and complicates the information sublime of the digital age.


A Genealogy of Kontrol’ in Russia: From Leninist to Neoliberal Discourse

Catherine Owen

This article examines the emergence of the concept obshchestvennyi kontrol’ in Russian state discourse, the practices to which it has been attached and the legitimating narrative employed to justify them. It traces the concept of kontrol’ from Leninist conceptions of rabochyi kontrol’, through post-Stalinist discourses of narodnyi kontrol’, demonstrating that contemporary state-driven articulations of obshchestvennyi kontrol’ exhibit a substantial amount of continuity in the conceptualisation of the role of the citizen as assisting the state in its pre-determined goals. However, in contrast to rabochyi and narodnyi kontrol’, which were legitimated by various aspects of Marxist-Leninist theory, contemporary mechanisms of obshchestvennyi kontrol’ are accompanied by a rhetoric of increasing international competitiveness, thereby allowing the Kremlin to respond to international norms of a ‘small state’, outsourcing and civic participation.

Russia and the Vulnerability of Electoral Authoritarianism?

Graeme Gill

The notion of electoral authoritarianism emerged in the post-cold war world to refer to authoritarian systems that used seemingly democratic electoral means to stabilize non-democratic systems. This was achieved through the production of massive electoral majorities for the ruling party. However an element of uncertainty remains with such elections in that the ruling party may be either defeated or suffer a significant electoral rebuff. Such events are usually seen in terms of the loss of voter support for the party, but as the Russian case shows, this may be better seen as evidence of a basic malfunction of the electoral authoritarian mechanism itself.

Energy as Power: Gazprom, Gas Infrastructure, and Geo-Governmentality in Putin’s Russia

Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen

This study unfolds the normalizing narrative that is constructed via the Gazifikatsiia Rossii promotional video released by Gazprom. The analysis reveals that the practiced geo-governmentality of gazifikatsiia derives its power from geographical imaginaries of Russia. This bipartite energopower and geo-governmentality receives its essence from the positive and negative materialities of hydrocarbons, the ability to do both “good” and “bad”, which unfolds the way the non-human is embedded in the construction of the social. This construction lumps together the material-nationalistic energy imagination, such as Russia as an energy Superpower, with universal goals such as economic growth and modernization, but also with values such as conservative gender roles. The rationalities and practices of gazifikatsiia geo-governmentality function in and combine several scales: the subject is tied to territories and the nation via gas, the subject is made responsible for the biosecurity of the population, and the global is harnessed in legitimizing the reliance on gas.

The Red Army in Yugoslavia, 1944-1945

Vojin Majstoroviĉ

This article discusses the Red Army’s behaviour in Yugoslavia in 1944 and 1945, focusing on the issue of rape. It explores the magnitude of the sexual violence that the Soviet troops perpetrated in the country by comparing it to their conduct in the countries which fought against the Soviet Union, arguing that the Red Army behaved with relative restraint in Yugoslavia. In order to explain the Soviet soldiers and officers’ behaviour there, the article focuses on the high command’s propaganda line about Yugoslavia, the army leadership’s disciplinary policies towards rapists and other criminals in the ranks, the frontline troops’ attitudes towards the Yugoslavs, the emergence of large number of stray soldiers behind the frontlines, and some Soviet soldiers’ tendency to abuse alcohol.

Violence and the Production of Borders in Western Slavonia

Mila Dragojeviĉ

This article examines how the production of a dividing line, through violence, the accompanying narratives, and the policing of a physical border from 1991 to 1995, shaped and influenced the lives of ordinary people, all residents of Western Slavonia. How was it possible for people to be divided so abruptly and effectively in a community with a history of multiethnic solidarity? How were these new social divisions produced and reproduced over the course of warfare on a social level? By considering new archival sources, in-depth interviews, and recent scholarly publications, this study argues that such dividing line made the process of ethnicization, or of polarization, possible. Thus, by representing the space where the top-level political cleavages, local-level cleavages, and individuals’ beliefs and momentary choices meet, the wartime dividing line effectively transformed former neighbors into political enemies who were no longer familiar, visible, or accessible on a human level.