In this article, I compare two female-only feminist groups from the Soviet Union and Russia: one of them, the Leningrad feminists, were active in the Soviet Union in the late 1970’s and the other, Pussy Riot, appeared in the 2010’s. By placing Pussy Riot in the (post-)Soviet context and comparing them with the Leningrad feminists, I arrive at a novel reading of both. The similarities between both their structures and messaging are striking: both groups initially split off from larger, male-dominated dissident collectives; both faced challenges as mothers; and both groups appealed to the Virgin Mary as their guardian. These similarities are often obscured in readings that compare Pussy Riot with the Russian male actionists or Western riot grrrl feminists. By forging a different genealogy and comparing these two constellations of women, this article highlights both activist potentials and feminist genealogies in the (post-) Soviet space that have remained largely invisible.
China has been in interaction with the world for a long time.1 But due to the implementation of a ‘self-seclusion’ policy in modern times, China’s domestic study of the world and neighboring countries started late. It was not until the middle of the 19th century, when its doors were forced to open, that China began to gain further knowledge of the world. In this historical context, even though the two countries shared a long borderline in the north, China knew little about Russia, and Chinese people who mastered the Russian language were rather rare. Meanwhile, the Russian side
Everyone at Brill/CSS is deeply shocked and worried by the war in Ukraine. We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and those fighting for freedom and peace. Our thoughts go out to all affected, particularly our university partners, authors and editors in Ukraine and their supporters wherever they might be.
This war shows again how vital the humanities are. Against the falsification of history, we need good historical analysis. For a proper understanding of a conflict, knowledge of languages, culture and religions is just as necessary as economic and political analysis.
Erik R. Scott, Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. 352 pp. $ 40.95 USD. ISBN 9780199396375.
Erik Scott’s readable and often discerning work introduces the uninitiated to the outsize role that the internal Georgian diaspora played politically, culturally, economically, and most significantly (and enduringly) at dinner tables across Soviet space. He succeeds in establishing why the Georgians thrived and enjoyed unparalleled internal diasporic success (2). Georgians, it seems, emerged as the “non-Russian experts in the ‘national question’ when it came to politics, as pioneers of a
The officially sanctioned popular music genre of Soviet estrada has traditionally been an industry where both male and female performers have been able to achieve high levels of success and public exposure. Meanwhile, within the genres of underground and unofficial popular music – rock, punk, and rap – the male-dominated gender disparity has been much more pronounced. This article investigates the reasons behind this dynamic within a Russo-Soviet context. In dialogue with Judith Butler’s notion of gender performativity as well as recent scholarship on gender in Western rock and punk movements, the present essay considers the evolution of performative strategies of female artists in Russo-Soviet popular culture. The discussion spans the Soviet, late-Soviet, and post-Soviet historical periods, focusing on the gendered performative dimensions in the musical careers of Alla Pugacheva, Yanka Diagileva, and the art-punk collective Pussy Riot, in an effort to account for the glaring dearth of female performers in traditionally “transgressive” popular genres. I present the argument that Russian and Soviet women performers working in rock, punk, and rap, or when forging new directions in estrada, have evolved to mitigate the genres’ prescriptive masculinity by relying on performing “otherness” as a conduit to mass appeal, celebrity status, and acclaim for artistic individuality.
Jiří Hutečka, Men under Fire: Motivation, Morale and Masculinity among Czech Soldiers in the Great War, 1914–1918. New York: Berghahn Books, 2020. xi, 288pp. $ 135. ISBN 978-1-78920-541-1
Jiří Hutečka’s study of Czech-speaking soldiers in the World War I Austro-Hungarian military urges readers to do something deceptively simple: to consider these men as men. Hutečka asks what made Czech-speaking men not only consent to go to war in 1914, but stick with the conflict despite hardship, loss, and humiliation. And he examines how and why that stamina eroded by 1918, taking with it much
Krista A. Goff, Nested Nationalism: Making and Unmaking Nations in the Soviet Caucasus. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2020. xii + 319 pp. $ 49.95 USD. ISBN 9781501753275.
Putin’s war on Ukraine is a vivid reminder of the reverberations of the long Soviet collapse. Two years prior, a war in another corner of the former Soviet empire, Nagorno-Karabakh, received far less global attention, yet it had risen from analogous disputes over power, indigeneity, identity, and the suffering that comes when borders and nationalities do not align in contested spaces. To try to make sense
A few months ago, Kat Hill wrote to see if I wanted to take over for Erika Monahan as book review editor for Canadian-American Slavic Studies. Kat may have sensed that I had just finished a project that would allow me to step into this role. As someone who has been working to highlight digital humanities content in this journal, she may have remembered my work in DH and saw a natural fit. Or maybe she recalled that I did my PhD at University of Toronto and wanted to realize the Canadian-American aspirations of this journal’s
This paper examines the trajectories of Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina in the years since their performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This study, however, does not simply focus on their activities as individuals, but seeks to contextualize their work over the last decade in terms of capitalism, neoliberalism, and collective struggle. Planting the history of Pussy Riot within the context of historic and contemporary tensions within intersectional feminisms in Russia, the “West”, and transnationally, this paper will map divergences and convergences that render transnational feminist collaboration both troubled and uniquely productive. Global neoliberalism has challenged nation-states to develop hybridized and dynamic tactics of control that function both locally and in terms of transnational relations, and feminist movement therefore faces the same challenge; this paper participates in that struggle.
This paper examines how feminist protest, specifically in the case of Pussy Riot, contests the power structures that sustain the authority of Vladimir Putin in Russia. I investigate how Pussy Riot engages in revolutionary activity, oftentimes unaccepted in Russia, to expose and subvert the gender dynamics that are foundational to formal and informal institutions in the country. I present a typology, designed to facilitate an understanding of the strategies Pussy Riot utilise to disrupt public life in Russia. This paper addresses how power, and the structures that generate and then sustain it, is contested and re-negotiated, even in oppressive and homogenizing societies. More specifically, I address the androcentric bias of power that is emblematic of Putin’s Russia. Doing so requires beginning from a position that necessarily accepts what Oleg Riabov and Tatiana Riabova termed the ‘remasculinization’ of Russia, a renewed focus on the production of ‘social borders and hierarchies,’ based on conceptualisations of masculinity and femininity. Constructions of gender, in which femininity is subordinate to masculinity, have become essential to the legitimisation of Putin’s position at the apex of the power vertical and the promulgation of images of Russia as sovereign and powerful. The aim of this paper is not to judge the success of the Pussy Riot collective, but rather, to offer insight into the potential for feminist protest, and protest more generally, in the future in Putin’s Russia.