This article addresses the complex role of mushrooms, particularly that of the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) [Russian: Mukhomor], in the art of Moscow conceptualism in a broad setting. This paper explores the mythopoetic theme of mushroom-induced beliefs, which influenced the Moscow conceptualists, and employs background historical scholarship by R.G. Wasson, V.N. Toporov, T.J. Elizarenkova, and others. Aside from the mushrooms per se that were particularly important for Moscow conceptualism, this article also mentions various ethno-botanical entheogens (i.e. biochemical substances such as plants or drugs ingested in order to undergo certain spiritual experience, or “generating the divine within”). Apart from analyzing the ethnobotanical historical background of manifesting hallucinogenic mushrooms on the Russian soil (including Siberia), this article focuses on Pavel Peppershtein’s novel Mifogennaia Liubov’ Kast (The Mythogenic Love of the Castes), which was co-authored with Sergey Anufriev. As the narrative of the novel unfolds, its main character, the Communist Partorg (Party Organizer) Dunaev, is wounded and shell-shocked at the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War (World War II). Partorg Dunaev finds himself deep in a mysterious forest, where he inadvertently snacks on unknown hallucinogenic mushrooms. He subsequently transforms into an exceptionally strong wizard who is capable of fighting spectral enemies both on earth and in heaven. The reader discovers the so-called “parallel war” sweeping over the Russian territory where legendary Russian/Soviet fairy heroes are locked in combat with their opponents, the characters of the Western children’s tales, and books. A heroic mushroom-eater, Partorg Dunaev joins one of the sides in this fight and gradually reaches the “utmost limits of sacrifice and self-rejection.” This article contextualizes the fungi-entheogenic episodes of Moscow conceptualism into a broader sphere of constructed visionary/ hallucinogenic reality by focusing on psilocybin fungi, particularly the fly agaric/Amanita muscaria/Mukhomor, and their cultural significance.
This article examines the process of establishing the image of ancient slave rebellion leader Spartacus in the early Soviet era, with a focus on the 1920s and 1930s. Although the image of Spartacus in Soviet historiography has been investigated by scholars, the process of acculturation and reception of his figure within toponymy, onomastics, sport, and history-writing has not been researched as a holistic approach of Soviet propaganda. This article traces how and why Spartacus’s image became the primary figure of the classical antiquity in Soviet propaganda of the 1920s. The article argues that it was not Soviet historiography in the 1920s that shaped his image to be embodied in the Soviet narratives and public space. Rather, art, local toponymy, and sports created and promoted a particularly Soviet reception of Spartacus in the 1920s and 1930s which provided implications for socialist Central-Eastern European countries in the post-World War II era.
The Central Asian states stepped into independence with governments appropriating the nation-state legacy that was inherited from the Soviet era and popular masses appropriating their traditional identity that was suppressed during most of the Soviet era. This article examines the space between the state and society within the context of development and change in the religious material culture in the Syr Darya valley of Southern Kazakhstan. As such this work contributes to the growing literature examining how top-down and bottom-up processes simultaneously operate during post-Soviet national identity formation.
This article is based on interviews with and questionnaires completed by Donetsk area residents when the author visited the city January 7–17, 2014. They demonstrate that, at least among Donbas area residents with higher education, there were possibilities for building a “European dream” that Euromaidan protesters in Kyiv championed. Fighting for the rule of law, human rights, and an end to corruption—values identified with the Euromaidan—could have transcended Ukraine’s regional divisions. Even those skeptical of “European values” still agreed that they belonged to one nation with differing political objectives. Yet the manipulation of the Kyiv protests by politicians, outbursts of violence in Kyiv, continued stereotypes of Ukraine’s regions, and complex economic ties with Russia and Europe made this European dream elusive. Escalating violence in January 2014 and the sudden implosion of the regime of Viktor Yanukovych the next month polarized public opinion in Donetsk. Due to manipulations by local politicians, pro-Russian activists, and pro-Russian propaganda in local media, Donetsk residents and others in the Donbas protested the Kyiv “Junta” and demanded greater rights for their region. The ensuing geopolitical battle brought about greater Russian intervention, both politically and militarily, making it impossible for civil society to resist the sudden emergence of separatist republics. As pro-Russian activists and armed militants, some from across the Russian border, terrorized pro-Ukrainian citizens and Euromaidan activists, the European dream in Donetsk came to an end for the foreseeable future.