The 125th NZ issue comprises two thematic sections complemented by our regular columns.
The first section, “Gender and Symbolic Orders of Violence”, addresses some aspects of the theory and practice of contemporary feminism considered in relation to various forms of violence and coercion. It opens with Olga Zdravomyslova’s intro “In the Context of Resistance: The Feminist Agenda of the New Generation”, which sets the theme, both content- and tone-wise, for a subsequent discussion around the future of the struggle for gender equality and against gender violence. The theme is further explored in “How to Create Solidarity Networks Under ‘Oppression Regimes’”, a piece by Angelika Sjöstedt Landén and Katarina Giritli-Nygren, of the Forum for Gender Research, Sweden. Its central argument is that solidarity remains a key notion for feminism, one that has not yet been appropriated by neoliberal theories and practices. Naydene de Lange, a professor at the Nelson Mandela University, uses several examples — from her own teaching experience and social activities, as well as from certain recent developments in the South African Republic — to outline some features of gender violence regimes along with manifestations of women’s resistance practices. The section ends with Elena Onegina’s brief analysis of one particular gender violence regime: the “ideal body” image promoted in the media and pop culture. The author sees it as representative of the general situation, concluding: “Male and female bodies are judged by different criteria. The body, emotions and sexuality become the object of social control and power manipulations, the focus of laws legitimising medical and political experiments.” The section is complemented by Olga Zdravomyslova’s interview with Anna Rivina, the founder of the non-profit organisation “No to Violence” (Nasiliyu.net).
The issue’s second section is centred on the 1990s, a key decade in the contemporary history of Russia. The very title of the introduction, “Access Key: Archive of the Recent Past”, gives some idea of the editorial concept behind the section. The 1990s are an “access key” to an understanding of the current social and political situation, while the word “archive” indicates that the not-so-distant era in question has ended. Galina Yankovskaya’s piece traces the history of a 1980s systemic crisis in one of the major institutions in charge of culture, the Artists’ Union, which resulted in its self-dissolution in 1992. The article is based on extremely rich, little-known sources, some of them dating back to the perestroika period. Anna Razogreeva’s “Inertia. Hybrid Administration of Law in the Romantic Period of the Judiciary Reform”, a brief history of the establishment of the post-Soviet judiciary system, talks not so much of the demise of the old as of unrealised attempts to create something new in the process. Roman Abramov turns to a fascinating subject that is the fate of Dale Carnegie’s writings and views in the Soviet era and in the early 1990s. As with the previous article, here we have what might be called a “romantic period” of neoliberal capitalism in Russia or, more precisely, a “romantic period” of the propagation of its mass ideology, which for some social groups has become an integral part of conscience. Finally, Galina Orlova in “The Breach: ‘Komsomolka’ Exposed” examines the transformation of “Komsomolskaya Pravda” newspaper from the mouthpiece of the Central Komsomol Committee into a vivid specimen of Russia’s yellow press, tracing the process from its perestroika-era content to a claim lodged by the communist MP Vasily Shandybin, who sued the publication for amorality. This story is unfolding against the background of changes in the public view of sexuality.
Two further pieces serve as a postscript to this section: “Citizen Poet: Nostalgic Subjectivity of Post-Soviet Liberalism” by Sanna Turoma, published in Case Study, and Alexei Levinson’s column Sociological Lyrics. Levinson looks at sociological surveys as an important historical source contributing to the conversation around the 1990s. Turoma’s article is about “Citizen Poet”, a satirical project popular among liberal (mostly metropolitan) intellectuals, led by such well-known figures as the writer Dmitry Bykov and the actor Mikhail Efremov. The project was a vital element of Russia’s media space in 2011–2012, immediately prior to the electoral cycle that ended in mass protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Also in 125th issue is the transcript an account of a public debate between two British philosophers and writers: the renowned left theorist Terry Eagleton and the “bard of conservatism” Roger Scruton (“Culture Wars” in Political Theory and Depolitisation Practices). The debate was recorded in 2012; it is impossible to imagine Eagleton and Scruton sharing a platform again in today’s Britain, following the country’s sharp political and ideological polarisation. Politics of Culture includes two essays. “Utopia of ‘Black Atlántida’: Afrofuturism and the Electronic Music” by Evgeny Bylina tells of how some native views of a “parallel”, speculative history of the Afro-American community found a reflection first in the soul music of the 1970s and then in rave, a newly invented dance style. Vadim Mikhailin analyses Pavel Arsenov’s film “Rescue the Drowning Person” (1967) as one of the symptoms of the “thaw project” in Soviet history. In Culture of Politics we publish “Rather Battered but Very Much Alive: International Order in the 21st Century” by Paul Robinson, a professor at the University of Ottawa.
As is tradition, this issue contains another essay by Alexander Kustarev, “Ukraine’s Historical Chance”, written for his regular column Political Imaginary. The Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review by Alexander Pisarev and the New Books section offers a wide range of reviews.