For all its variety of topics the 135th NZ issue is centred around a single main theme. The focus is on identity, a notion that has come to play an extremely important part in the present-day world. In these pages we follow its dynamics, discussing its history and its role in ideological, political and cultural problems of our times.
The issue is thematically organised into two sections. The first of them is directly concerned with the history of identity politics and with a number of its aspects relevant today. The section opens with a translation of “Identity and Identity Politics: A Cultural Materialist History”, an extensive article by Marie Moran, a lecturer at University College Dublin. Moran traces the emergence of theoretical notions and practices linked to identity and analyses the political and cultural context that shapes them. Fedor Nikolai develops the theme in “«Identity» Crisis: Cultural Memory Beyond Right-Wing Nostalgia and Liberal Therapy”, an overview of various perspectives on two complementary phenomena: the way identity politics is shaped by our notions of the past and by the so-called culture wars, and the influence that identity politics, in its turn, has on these processes. The section ends with a piece by Anna Egorova discussing the conflict between identity politics and class politics, along with a possible way of resolving it.
The theme of the first section is further developed in Culture of Politics, which features Vladislav Inozemtsev's analysis of Russia's foreign policy, “On the Crossing Post-Imperial «Peripheries»”. Built on the ruins of the USSR, the country self-identifies as an “empire”, the author suggests, before going on to examine the effect of this tendency on Russia's approach to global affairs.
The second section focuses on gender identity realised through generational, political and cultural choices. Titled “Girlhood at the Turn of an Era”, this collaboration with the journal “Girlhood Studies” is introduced by the NZ editor Andrey Zakharov. The section opens with “Girls Today: Girls, Girl Culture and Girl Studies”, a study by Catherine Driscoll, a professor at Sydney University. This survey is continued in article by Victoria Cann, Sarah Godfrey and Helen Warner, which drawing on contemporary material. To conclude the theme, we offer “Gender Polulism in Belarus” by Irina Solomatina and Viktoria Shmidt, a timely take on the feminist aspect characterising the current mass protest movement against Alexander Lukashenko's regime.
Identity grounded in national and cultural traditions is the subject of a conversation between our editor-in-chief, Kirill Kobrin, and the London-based artist Natalya Vikulina, published under NZ Interview. This is the final instalment in our series dedicated to conversations with artists about Chinese influences on post-Soviet art and culture.
The political turmoil in Belarus is further discussed in Case Study, in a piece by Nikolay Mitrokhin depicting an ambiguous reaction of the Belarus Orthodox church to the protests. The article is the first in a series planned for 2021, in which NZ contributors will report on how different churches respond to the most serious global crises of our era. Coming soon is a special issue focused on the situation in Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia and, once again, Belarus.
Also in this issue are the latest instalments of our regular columns. NZ Archive is relaunched with a fascinating historical document (published in translation), the Ukrainian literary scholar Vasily Boyko's reaction to a talk given by Boris Eikhenbaum in Kharkiv in 1926. Culture of Politics features “Rhetorical Analysis of the Memorial Society's Discourse” by the German Russianist Renate Lachmann, a professor at the University of Konstanz. In Politics of Culture, NZ editor Igor Kobylin considers the political and ideological context in which the philosopher and methodologist Georgy Shchedrovitsky developed his theoretical and practical ideas (“Mental Activity, Governmentality: History and Managerial Class Conscienc”). Alexey Levinson's column appears under Sociological Lyrics. The issue concludes with the Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review by Alexander Pisarev and a New Books section.