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ANTHROPOLOGY OF DIASPORA: CULTURAL MECHANISMS FOR IDENTITY CONSTRUCTION

This issue will become part of a larger project studying cultural and anthropologi­cal aspects of closed societies/communities and, relatedly, multiple modernities. The anthropological approach we have chosen is based upon the assumption that the generalizing "big paradigms" typical of social sciences in the 20th century are now being replaced by practices oriented toward the study of various manifesta­tions of the individual: through everyday life, emotions, memory, traumas, per­sonal history and intersubjective interactions.

The anthropological study of modernities has been underway on the pages of New Literary Observer for several years now, as evidenced by a number of article series and three comprehensive special editions on the topic: "1990: An experiment in studying recent history" (2007, № 83/84), "The anthropology of closed socie­ties" (2009, № 100) and "The semiotics of August in the 20th century" (2012, № 116/117). All of it addresses, in one way or another, the same set of questions: how do different forms of individual and collective identity develop in closed and open societies/communities? What are the mechanisms and methods of their construction? How do individual members of these societies/communities adapt these mechanisms to their own strategies for survival and self-realization?

In our opinion, the most active processes whereby collective identities are cre­ated and adapted by individuals can be observed in the social setting of a diaspora community. We regard diasporas as a version of the self-isolating community, where elements of the home culture engage in complex interactions with the new social and cultural environment, ultimately transforming the initial cultural back­ground. At the same time, for people living in a diaspora, the latter serves as a depo­sitory of cultural codes, ideologies and values produced within their home country and to be preserved overseas. The diaspora phenomenon today not only throws into question the existence of nation-states in a globalized world; it also generates qualitatively new forms that emerge, paradoxically, from the contradiction between the irreducibility of cultural "differences" and human social adaptability.

This issue opens with an article from NLO's editor-in-chief Irina Prokhorova, in which she outlines the contemporary state of diaspora studies in Russia and abroad.

 

DIASPORA THEORY THROUGH THE EYES OF ITS FOUNDERS

The first section of the issue features interviews with scholars who have made signifi­cant contributions to the development of diaspora studies. They include Khachig Tololyan (Wesleyan University in Connecticut), editor of Diaspora: a Journal of Transnational Studies, as well as scholars such as Yossi Shain (Tel Aviv University),William Safran (University of Colorado at Boulder) and Robin Cohen (University of Oxford), who can justifiably be considered giants in the field of diaspora studies.

 

DIASPORA THEORY: DIASPORAS AND DIASPORA

This section presents articles by Vladislav Tretyakov (NLO), surveying the jour­nalDiaspora since its first issue in 1991, and Abram Reitblat (NLO), surveying the Russian-language Diasporas, which has been coming out since 1999. The sec­tion closes with an article from Elena Nosenko-Shtein (RAS Institute of Oriental Studies), presenting a survey of literature on Jewish identity.

 

DIASPORA AND LITERATURE (I)

Compiled by Mikhail Krutikov

Mikhail Krutikov's (University of Michigan) "Jewish memory and the para-Soviet chronotope: Alexander Goldshtein, Oleg Yuryev, Alexander Ilichevskii" examines the strained relationships between "Soviet" and "Jewish" memories as reflected in the fiction and essays of three emigre authors of the "last Soviet generation" (to use the term coined by anthropologist Alexei Yurchak). With different artistic and philosophical orientations, these writers have created mytho-poetic constructions rooted in the modernist and avant-garde cultural legacy. Goldshtein, who emig­rated from Baku to Israel in the early 1990s, emerged as the champion of a new, diversified and decentralized "Russophone" literature, similar to the post-colonial literatures in English and French. Yuryev left his native Leningrad around the same time and settled in Frankfurt, where he established his reputation as a bilin­gual Russian-German poet, essayist and novelist. His novel trilogy, Poluostrov Zhidiatin (2000), Novyi Golem, ili voina starikov i detei (2004), and Vineta (2007) portrays the recent transformations of Russia through a reinterpretation of the foundational myths of European culture, in which Jews occupy a critical, albeit somewhat hidden position. Ilichevskii, who came back to Russia after a sojourn in Israel and California (and has recently returned to Israel), established a repu­tation as one of the most successful "high-brow" contemporary novelists in Russia. Like Yuryev, Ilichevskii uses the quest trope in his major novel, Pers, to revisit and re-evaluate the position of a Jewish intellectual in Soviet and post-Soviet cul­tural space, focusing on his native Baku. In the context of the demise of the Soviet universe, Jewishness acquires a new significance: from a mark of difference, it be­comes a mark of a new certainty. In the post-Soviet vacuum, these authors and their characters revisit - and often recover - a sense of identity that helps to define their positions in a global world.

The appropriation of new languages and cultures by the younger generation of emigre writers is the theme of Adrian Wanner's (Pennsylvania State University) article, "Triple Identities: Russian-Speaking Jews as German, American, and Israeli Writers." Over the past decade, a number of Russian-Jewish emigres have become successful writers in the languages of their host countries, becoming part of the growing phenomenon of translingual diaspora literature. Wanner's article explores how these authors negotiate their triple identities as Jews, Russians, and Ger­mans/Americans/Israelis. Even though they have abandoned Russian as a medium of literary expression, most of these writers maintain, or manufacture, a strong Russian identity in their fictionalized self-representation. Paradoxically, as Jews they managed to become fully recognized as "Russians" only outside Russia. While they have received a friendly response from readers and critics in the West, the re­ception of their books in Russia has been indifferent at best (if not hostile). The territorial and linguistic move out of Russia into a constructed foreign "Russian- ness" raises a host of questions pertaining to transnational authenticity, including the role of language in a writer's national categorization, the function of cultural stereotypes in the fashioning of an ethno-national identity, and the value of Rus- sianness vs. Jewishness as a brand in different literary markets. These issues are explored in a comparative analysis of the oeuvre and reception of contemporary translingual Russian-Jewish writers active in Germany and Austria (Wladimir Kaminer, Lena Gorelik, Vladimir Vertlib), the United States (Gary Shteyngart), and Israel (Boris Zaidman).

In "Poets / Poetry in Diaspora: On Being 'Marginally Jewish,'" Stephanie Sandler(Harvard University) presents a category of Jewish identity that marks a number of Russian poets living in diaspora. She argues that the idea of Jewish identity continues to provide organizing tropes and to exert rhetorical force, modified by an awareness of living not (or not just) at the margins of secular cul­ture but at the margins of Jewish identity and history. The essay treats poems by Boris Khersonskii, Marina Temkina, and Ilya Kaminsky, poets who represent a range of generations, locations, and even language use (Kaminsky writes in Eng­lish). Although the essay's strategy of close reading concentrates on these poets, it suggests that the idea of a "marginally Jewish" identity is a productive category that could be used to explore writings by others, from the well-known (Joseph Brodsky, Elena Shvarts) to the yet under-studied (Sergei Magid, Mikhail Gronas). The essay also points to two areas for promising further research: what of the flourishing community of Russian poets in Israel, a location we would not think of as diaspora but yet a place in which "marginally Jewish" identity may be quite apt? And what has happened to the stamp of separateness, long associated with Jewish identity? Might "marginally Jewish" identity instead enable complex and lasting new connections to others, Jewish or not?

 

DIASPORA IDENTITY IN FILM

This section opens with an article from Lorenzo Chiesa (University of Kent), "'Are you from NATO?' Demystifying Italian heritage in The Sopranos." David Chase's TV series "The Sopranos" (1999—2007), which centered around the middle-aged Italian-American New Jersey gangster Tony Soprano and his dys­functional leadership of his biological and 'business' families, was both an inter­national hit and the object of intense critical discussion. While some critics con­demned it for racial and sexist stereotyping, not to mention its ultra-violence, other praised it for its supposedly realistic portrayal of organized crime and upper- middle-class American family life. Chiesa first briefly discusses the series' reinven­tion of the Italian-American mafioso film genre (thirty years after the release of Coppola's seminal The Godfather), as well as its diegetic complication of the latter's ability to make the artificial look real and to simultaneously have real-life effects on society (especially on the Italian-American community and its public image). Chiesa then outlines an argument for regarding The Sopranos as belonging to the legacy of Italian neo-realist cinema, even as, in keeping with this cinematic tradition, it nonetheless radicalizes the elusiveness of the line dividing reality from image. Finally and most importantly, Chiesa focuses on the series' effective de­bunking of the myth of an idyllic Italy as it is usually portrayed in mafia movies; the contradictions entailed by Tony's defence of the Italian heritage as a white, upper-middle-class US citizen; and, conversely, his difficulty in acknowledging that he has become more mainstream American than he is prepared to accept.

An article from Liubov Bugaeva (SPbGU), "Ex-pat onscreen: cultural identity and emotional ethnography," addresses questions of the construction of diaspora identity in American cinema. She focuses on diaspora members' forms of cultural commonality, as well as different varieties of interaction between diasporas and the dominant culture of their countries of residence: the assimilation of foreign elements; the isolation of "foreigners" in special zones; total disdain; parallel exis­tence; diffusion. Diaspora identity in film is created not only through ethnic practi­ces, but also through the shared emotional landscape; the film director often plays the role of "ethnographer of the emotions." The director's view of the diaspora — whether as an insider or an outsider — is part of a complex process of diaspora identification in film.

 

THE CONCEPT OF "CULTURE" IN DIASPORA

This section opens with an article by Catherina Clark (Yale University), "Intel­lectuals in the Germanophone anti-Fascist diaspora seek to define an identity in exile." In recent years, scholars in a variety of fields have been interested in the phenomenon of diaspora. Many have sought ways to analyze the impact had on cultural, ethnic or national identity when large numbers of people from one ethnic group or country find themselves, by accident or by design, scattered over many other countries; this was true of that earlier diaspora — the post-revolutionary Russian emigration - which engages many of the articles in this issue. The diaspora addressed in this article began when Hitler came to power in Germany on January 30, 1933, but intensified with the mass arrests of leftists following the Reichstag fire of 27 February and the burning of the books in May of that year, when large numbers of intellectuals left, some fleeing for their lives. Intellectuals from Austria and Czechoslovakia, and Germans who had taken refuge in those countries, joined the diaspora after the Nazis took over in their respective countries in 1938. Clark identifies all these people as Germanophone to the extent that they wrote pri­marily in German. The gravity that at any particular moment an individual writer of this emigration attached to Deutschtum, to France (or Europe), or to the So­viet spiritual Heimat was one of many variables at play as she, or more likely he, struggled to define cultural identity at a time of multiple crises. But such equivoca­tion is endemic to the diasporic condition. Recent theorists of diaspora look parti­cularly at groups defined by race or religion. These two categories were largely left out of the purview of the Germanophone exiles, as they thought of their own identity in more Eurocentric terms. Nevertheless, they share some general features, over and above an interest in Fichte. One of these would be a perverse and even utopian proclivity for seeing the universal in a chaotic world.

Kevin M.F. Platt's (University of Pennsylvania) "Hegemony without domi­nance/diaspora without emigration: Russian culture in Latvia" presents a study of Russian cultural production and collective identity in former Soviet states neighboring the Russian Federation — referred to in Russia as the "Near Abroad"— and contributes to discussions that have taken place over the past decade concer­ning the applicability of the terms of postcolonial theory in post-soviet and post- socialist contexts. The material for the article derives from a larger ethnographic project regarding Russophone cultural projects in Riga, the capital of Latvia, which has a thriving ethnic Russian population (40% of the city's total population, as of the 2011 census) as well as significant numbers of other Russian-speakers. At the center of discussion are two competing, independent lending libraries founded in the course of the last decade and a half in Riga. The first of the libraries was the autonomous undertaking of local Russophone intelligentsia, concerned about the fate of Russian culture in Latvia. The other was created thanks to the financial support of prominent figures of the entertainment industry of the Russian Federation — including most importantly the satirist Mikhail Zadornov. Analysis of these two organizations, as well as of the competition between them, based on interviews and observation conducted over the past five years, supports a number of conclusions concerning the dynamic relationships between "mainland" or "met­ropolitan" cultural systems and the cultural situation of the Russophone popula­tions of the near abroad. In these territories, Russian culture "juts out" from under the cover of formal Russian political institutions. The resulting situation of in­complete subordination of local cultural life to the general principles and tenden­cies of the central cultural systems may be described as a peculiar form of "hege­mony without dominance" (a reversal of the famous formulation of Ranajit Guha). In the semi-autonomous regime of the Near Abroad, Russian cultural life is rapidly developing in new and innovative directions. On one hand, it is precisely for this reason that Russian culture of the peripheries can acquire "avant-garde" signifi­cance and value for the cultural mechanisms of elite culture in the Russian Fede­ration. On the other hand, these same tendencies towards deviation from the norms of the cultural center may contribute to the "provincialization" of regional culture, imprinting the phenomena of the Near Abroad as inadequate, secondary or "post-colonial." Furthermore, the unequal political and economic conditions of cultural actors from the center and those of the periphery contribute to highly precarious relationships to identity constructions based in conceptions of Russian cultural wholeness. The article offers a description of the strategies of various actors in relation to these complex cultural dynamics, as well as insight into aspects of the "diasporic" situation of present Russian cultural development in Russia's "Near Abroad" in general.

 

NATIONAL — ETHNIC — DIASPORA

"How Diaspora Forces Individuals to Define their Ethnicity: The Paradox of Preserving While Debating 'Rusianness' on a Global Scale Among First Wave Emigres During Collectivization," an article by Laurie Manchester (Arizona State University), is based on the responses of over 400 Russian emigres living in fifty eight countries to a questionnaire circulated by a leading emigre in the late 1920s, and examines the process of defining national identity in a diaspora. Questioning the assumption that the exile lives in the past, it argues that the varied definitions of Russian national identity that emigres created were not primarily based on their preservation of pre-revolutionary conceptions, but were strongly affected by the host countries where they resided and the experiences of revolution, civil war, and being stateless refuges that they all endured. In a diaspora, faced with assimilation, individuals are forced to continually define their national identity, and they have the freedom to do so because no state exists to legislate it. Yet despite all the rhe­toric about diaspora nationalism, national identities are much harder to maintain in diaspora, and first wave emigres struggling to define a new national identity exclusive from Soviet Russians, could not come to an agreement.

The section closes with an article from James E. Casteel (Carleton University), "The Russian Germans in the Interwar German National Imaginary." In September 1929, a group of Russian German farmers who were dissatisfied with conditions under Soviet rule traveled to the suburbs of Moscow and demanded that they be allowed to emigrate. The gathering of ethnic Germans, most of whom were Mennonites, grew rapidly and numbered more than 13,000 people at its height. Their demands were widely reported in the German press and brought the subject of Soviet collectivization into the public eye in Germany. The effect of this event on German-Soviet diplomatic relations, which became increasingly strained as Stalinism took hold, is well known. Although studies of the gathering mention the public outcry in the press, they have generally assumed that the German pub­lic's identification with the Russian Germans was self-evident and not in need of explanation. In fact, public interest in and government concern for the Russian Germans was a relatively recent phenomenon. In the post-World-War-I era, Ger­mans came to understand the Russian Germans as emblematic of Germany's fate — as innocent, hardworking farmers who were loyal to Germanness and who worked tirelessly to expand German culture in the world. The Russian Germans also came to represent the larger crisis of legitimacy that affected the Weimar Republic in which parliamentary government was increasingly perceived as not being able to protect the German people and its interests, whether in Germany or abroad.

The article examine the place of the Russian Germans in the German social imagination of the interwar period - in an age of popular sovereignty, when Ger­mans came to imagine not the state but the Volk, or people, as the central political actor, aVolk that extended beyond the borders of the nation-state. The German fascination with the Russian Germans was the product of transnational interac­tions between Germans in the Reich and ethnic Germans in the Soviet Union, which took on a new significance after World War I. After briefly discussing the changing conceptions of German nationhood that saw a renewed interest in ethnic Germans beyond Germany's borders, Casteel shows how the condition of Russian-German communities under both tsarist and Bolshevik rule emerged as a topic of public discussion in German society, and how the conception of the German na­tion was expanded to include these extra-territorial communities, entailing obliga­tions to come to their aid. While identification with the Russian Germans was present throughout the period under discussion, Casteel focuses on key moments at which it crystallized and mobilized a variety of social actors from Russian Ger­man emigre associations, policy makers, and nationalist activists to address their concerns and needs: the Russian famine of 1921—1922, the gathering before Moscow in 1929—1930, the Nazis' anti-Bolshevik crusade after coming to power, and the outbreak of World War II.

 

DIASPORA AND RELIGION

Diaspora communities emphasize different aspects of their complex cultural repertoires—whether by choice or by necessity — as they insert themselves culturally and politically into their host countries. Some highlight their race (blacks from the Caribbean into the United States); others their religion (Muslims from Algeria into France); and still others their language-based ethnicity (English in South Africa). Determining ex ante which aspect of their identities will "win" has long perplexed students of ethnicity. But over time, a significant proportion of each diasporic community and their descendents consolidates around a single dimen­sion of difference, conditioning their social and political behavior on their interests as members of a category (say, Catholic) on the highlighted dimension (in this case, religion). David D. Laitin's (Stanford University) "The de-cosmopolitani- zation of the Russian diaspora: a view from Brooklyn in the 'far abroad'" is not pri­marily about explaining why Russophone Jews in the New York area condition their political and social lives around their religious identities. Rather, its purpose is to describe, at the level of the family, how this result emerged. To do this, it first provides a "modal life history" of the last two waves of Russian-speaking migrants from the former Soviet Union. These life histories demonstrate the cosmopolitan network into which Russophone Jews were embedded, and do not foreshadow the outcome reached after settlement in New York. Then, Laitin discusses how the Russian-speaking diaspora in the "near abroad" (i.e., those countries that were formerly republics of the USSR) adopted a "Russian-speaking" identity. In contrast, this language-based identity did not become the focal or primary way of developing identity in the New York area. Third, Laitin addresses the everyday emergence of a religiously oriented Jewish-American identity among these once secular cosmopolitan Jews. The concluding section traces the cultural transmission of a religious identity from children to their parents.

The section closes with Haseeb Ahmed's (Brussels — Zurich University of the Arts)"On the relationship of form and identity in Midwestern Islamic architec­ture." The Islamic Center is a new archetype unique to North America that arises from the array of social formations it contains. Its architectural form, however, points to a place that is remote in time and geographical space. The article traces it to the 7th century Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and its Ottoman variants, and outlines some of the reasons why this style was chosen. Geometry only ever describes itself; however, the octagonal plan has come to be a means of creating formal coherence for multiple diasporic communities inhabiting and constructing a single Islamic center, and meanwhile constructing their own imagination of the past and present to ensure a future.

 

DIASPORA AND LITERATURE (II)

In "Third Wave Writing: Borders, Politics, Language," an article by Olga Matich(University of California, Berkeley), the Russian diaspora of the 1970s and 1980s is considered through the prism of the coeval "spatial turn" in cultural theory, with a focus on literature and on some of the differences between the "third" and "first" emigrations. The spatial category of in-betweeness as the primary marker of diasporic identity is articulated besides geographic in relation to social, political, and cultural boundary crossings, whose initial writerly act usually was publishing in tamizdat. "On Socialist Realism" by Abram Tertz, first published in French in 1959, is seen as the starting point of third-wave literature, with Andrei Siniavsky creating a clandestine writerly identity many years before going abroad. Among the authors discussed are Siniavsky, Joseph Brodsky, Vassily Aksenov, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Sasha Sokolov and Eduard Limonov; among the thematics — ques­tions of language, such as irony; politics, ideology, and scandal; bodily discourse or embodiment of emigre experience.

Olga Breininger (Harvard University) contributes "Self-identification patterns and the literature of the Russian diaspora in contemporary Germany," which addresses the problem of self-identification in the Russian diaspora in Germany today. On the basis of fieldwork conducted in 2013, Breininger distinguishes three identification models among emigres. At the same time, textual analysis of the work of four writers (Maletskii, Kaminer, Vachedin, Bronski) demonstrates en­tirely different mechanisms of self-identification, which took shape under the in­fluence of multiculturalism. Studying these phenomena sheds light on the nature of the fragmentation of the Russian diaspora in Germany.

"On Value Systems of the Russian Emigration in China" by Mark Gamsa (Tel-Aviv University) takes up the invitation to reflect on the question of value sys­tems in the diaspora through a close reading of literary fiction by three writers of the Russian emigration in China. Works by Mikhail Shcherbakov (1890—1956), Alfred Kheidok (1892—1990) and Boris Iul'skii (1912—1950?), collected and pub­lished in Vladivostok in 2011, serve here as a window into the mental world of writers and, by extension, readers of Russian literature in China, mainly in Harbin and Shanghai during the 1930s and 1940s. The purpose is to deduce from these texts how their authors viewed the non-Russian world that surrounded them and how they perceived the needs of the audience, for whom they wrote.

 

DIASPORA AND PERFORMATIVE PRACTICES

This section opens with an article by Andy Byford (Durham University, UK), "Performing 'Community': Russian-speakers in Contemporary Britain." Using a variety of sources, including ethnographic participant observation, in-depth semi- structured interviews, the Russian-language migrant press, and some internet ma­terial, this article analyses a range of different practices, discourses and ideologies of 'community' developed by Russian-speakers in contemporary Britain. In parti­cular, it examines the ritual and the rhetoric through which a 'community' is soci­ally and symbolically constructed and deconstructed in performance. 'Community' is analyzed as a performative effect of complex situations of broadly understood 'theatrical' (self-) observation. The article shows that the social referents, cultural signifiers and functional effects of such performances are highly elusive and that they depend largely on the situational contingencies of concrete performances.

Lisa Ryoko Wakamiya's (University of Florida) "Post-Soviet Subjectivities and Diaspora" draws on Andy Byford's definition of the post-Soviet diasporic subject as a "form or tool of mobilization" to propose that shared discursive and material practices can contribute to productive relationships between diasporic subjects. Rather than locate the formation of post-Soviet diasporic subjects in places of origin or displacement, it focuses upon performances of diasporic identity that emphasize negotiations of meaning and relationships of exchange. Works by the New York based artist Evgeniy Fiks present specific examples of how performances incor­porating material texts can forge relationships between individual and global diasporic subjectivities. In "Lily Golden, Harry Haywood, Langston Hughes, Yelena Khanga, Claude McKay, Paul Robeson, Robert Robinson on Soviet Jews" (2001) and "Postcards from the Revolutionary Pleshka" (2013), the memoir and the post­card encourage diasporic subjects to negotiate individual identities and intradias- poric relations. They posit the diasporic subject as an agent of theoretical inquiry who enacts participatory processes for understanding diasporic identity formation.

Eva Luksaite's (University of Edinburgh Vilnius University) "Constructing the diasporic body: ritual practices among South Asians in Britain" explores the ways bodies are trained, made and re-made in diasporic settings. Examining South Asians in Britain, Luksaite argues that ritual practices are a relevant context to observe the process by which the diasporic body is constructed. First, Luksaite bridges the gap between the anthropology of migration and the anthropology of the body through the process of diasporic self-making. Second, she explores ethnographic data on ritual activities among South Asians in Britain and outlines different ways the diasporic body is constructed during these practices.

 

MEDIA AND DIASPORAS

In "The Diasporic Imaginary," Brian Keith Axel (University of Chicago) examines a special case of diaspora: that of the Sikhs, a religious group from the Indian state of Punjab. The Sikhs have been waging a long war for the autonomy of Khalistan, which is located within Punjab and remains unrecognized by the Indian govern­ment as a state. Axel shows that a diaspora can take shape not only in line with national identification — Sikhs remain Indians, but the Indian government never­theless refuses to recognize their autonomy. The torture and abuse suffered by Sikh activists and the images of it circulated on the internet are examined in the article as a necessary element of the construction of a particular diasporic identity. This identity is examined through the concept of the so-called diasporic imaginary, which is based around three assertions: (1) a diaspora is not made by a homeland, but makes a homeland; (2) the idea of a homeland is only one aspect of complex diasporic subjectivity; (3) diasporic identity is formed through complex inter­actions with the institutions of contemporary nation-states.

An article by Oxana Morgunova, "Aspects of electronic map-making for the Russian-speaking diaspora," uses data from the e-Diasporas Atlas international research project in order to characterize the special features of internet commu­nications on the part of the Russian-speaking diaspora (in connection with the use of various language and websites). Morgunova also attempts to connect virtual discourses with the dynamics of dislocations and to correlate the creation of tra­ditional communities with that of virtual connections.

 

BETWEEN TWO STOOLS: IDENTITY GLITCHES

Anna Harutyunyan (Freie Universitat Berlin) contributes "Turkish Armenians in in-between spaces," an article devoted to that part of the Armenian people which re­mained in Turkey after the 1915—1918 genocide, and which was compelled to partly assimilate. Harutyunyan examines the problem of individual and collective identifi­cation of Turkish Armenian within their home environment, as well as in diaspora: beginning in the 1960s, Turkish Armenians have made up a substantial part of the immigration from Turkey to Germany. In Germany, they were perceived as Turks, while meanwhile forming their own separate diasporic communities. Particular at­tention is paid to various Armenian diasporas' perception of the very fact of Turkish Armenians' existence, since after 1915 in most of these diasporas the myth took root that all those Armenians in Turkey who had not been able to escape were destroyed.

Alek D. Epstein's article, "The Jewish cosmopolitan artistic diaspora in France, 1900—1950" focuses on those artists, primarily of Jewish origin, who began their life as artists in France in the 1910s and were subsequently considered by art his­torians to be part of the so-called "Paris School," although none of them was native to that city. These people never acquired the feeling of a homeland in any country, maintaining a diasporic self-awareness for their entire lives. Yiddish was the mother tongue of most (but not all) of them, along with some knowledge of Rus­sian; even when they studied French or English, they rarely knew these languages well enough to take full advantage of the rich available lexicons. These artists made enormous contributions to art on an international level, but remained lifelong at the intersection of diasporas; the whole "Paris School" emerged in the wake of the comparatively massive-scale migration of Eastern European Jews to the West, many of them hoping to become artists and writers. Recalling many of the Paris School artists — of which some became famous, others well-known in professional circles, and still others all but forgotten, as well as their gallery owners and pat­rons — Epstein calls for a complex analysis of this phenomenon as one marked by unified, unbroken commonality. Using an analysis of these artists' place in art history canons and the collective memory of contemporary societies - whereby certain of these painters and sculptors are assigned either to Polish or Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Belarussian or American art — Epstein points out that today's under­standing of diasporas and metropolises usually proceeds from contemporary na­tional boundaries (meaning the boundaries of nations that exist today). This con­fuses the situation immensely and impedes an understanding of the place of various socio-cultural phenomena in their given historical periods - including the phe­nomena analyzed in this article.

The section closes with an article by Sergei Smirnov, "The 'Russian Atlantis': reminiscences of Russian repatriates from China and the problem of constructing diasporic identity." Smirnov discusses the problems of self-identification encoun­tered by Russian emigres from China, who found themselves returning to the So­viet Union after the Second World War. Having a fairly vague idea of what had gone on there, the repatriates idealized Soviet reality, which meanwhile made no efforts to justify their expectations. Smirnov proposes that the repatriates from China retained a dual - Soviet and emigre — identity for the duration of their entire subsequent lives in the USSR.

 

EPILOGUE

An article by Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht (Stanford University) "Can 'diaspora' be auratic?" suggests that we question the appropriateness of the term "diaspora" in the way it is used in contemporary diaspora studies. In Gumbrecht's view, the con­cept of "diaspora" has become overburdened with moral subtexts, which the aca­demic environment reproduces non-reflectively. First and foremost, there is the connotative stratum of the Holocaust, and Gumbrecht considers the exploitation of emotions connected with this trauma, which is evident in diaspora research, to be a way of stocking up on moral capital. But besides this misuse of the Holo­caust, Gumbrecht also finds the study of communities in terms of "diaspora" un­acceptable. In his opinion, the limited applicability of diasporic structures and phenomena to actual events — and the fact of their greater relevance for past eras of human history — should be obvious to the reflecting observer.

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