If 88th NZ issue could be said to have a single main topic, it would be something along these lines: “socio-political theory and social practice”. Indeed, the issue opens with several selections of articles, each related to this theme in one way or another. Our readers are sure to be quite interested in a section titled “Michel Foucault: The Responsibility of Thought and an Intellectual's Engagement”. It starts with a curious interview: the philosopher talked to Roger-Pol Droit in 1975, but the piece was not published in French until 2004. In it, Foucault talks about an intellectual's responsibility before society and about the difference in the perception of this responsibility between his own generation and the preceding one. Nancy Fraser analyses Michel Foucault's views on the nature of the contemporary variety of power, while Ilya Matveev's piece focuses on one of the examples related to the philosopher's activism within the so-called Prison Information Group.
The relation between political theory and practice is further explored in another section,Political Theory and Depoliticisation Practices. The concept of Total Strike is the main motif of an article by the renowned leftist activist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, while Judith Butler, whose status is approaching that of the classic of contemporary feminism, formulates the main aims, tactics and methods of struggle for the Occupy movement, which was in the news until recently. Butler features in this NZ issue not only as an author: Alexander Kondakov's article, “Deradicalising Russian Feminism: Judith Butler Finally Meets Alexandra Kollontai”, is about her and her theories concerning Russian feminism.
In his regular column, Sociological Lyrics, Alexey Levinson talks about the reaction of Russian society, which to a certain extent still lives in the previous historical period, to a range of sexual minorities-related problems (a burning issue in the last two years). His article is entitled “Society as a Victim of Homophobia”.
Alexander Kustarev expands theoretical reflections on the life of society, viewed as “practice”, and on socio-political theories. In his column “Capitalism. Culture. Intelligentsia” he goes as far as introducing an interesting concept, “capitalist mobilisation of culture”, which involves the transformation of culture (understood in broad terms) into a “market modernisation” resource, in Russia among other countries. The term “culture-capitalist society” used by Kustarev is also worth noting. Finally, the theme of “cultural resources” deployed in order to achieve political goals (not limited to those existing on a tactical scale) is further discussed by the editor-in-chief Ilya Kalinin in his regular column Daily Political Economy. Here the role of such resources is played by “history”. The title of Kalinin's piece is “The Past as a Limited Resource: Historical Politics and Rent Economy”.
Indeed, the concept of “resource”, so popular these days, is yet another hidden meta-topic of this issue, one of its sections titled “Resources and Political Order”. It comprises two articles. Alexander Etkind interprets turbulent events of Russian socio-political life as a conflict between knowledge and capital (note his formula, “meanwhile, the clever are becoming ever poorer, the rich ever more stupid”). Also featured in the issue is the American political scientist Timothy Mitchell; a chapter from his much-debated book “Carbon Democracy. Political Power in the Age of Oil” has been translated and published under the title “Machines of Democracy”. To return to last year's Russian socio-political life, Jadwiga Rogoża, an expert working at the Centre for Eastern Studies in Warsaw, gives a brief and convincing analysis of changes in Russia's public conscience, tumultuous as they have been, as well as of the way in which these changes have become a political activity resource (“«A Knock From Downstairs»: Russian Society Initiates Change”).
Issue 88 has a special section concerned with problems of sport -- and, specifically, the Olympics. The forthcoming 2014 Games, to be held in Sochi, are the main interest here. Andrey Makarychev analyses “Russian Olympic discourses” (observed in the media, politics, etc.), Sergey Markedonov considers ethnic-political dimensions of Sochi 2014, while Bo Petersson and Emil Persson, Swedish political scientists, look at the political myth-making which has emerged (and is being actively produced) in the run-up to the Games. The section concludes with an article by Martin Müller, “A Paradoxical Spectacle: Public Opinion and the Sochi Olympics”.
The issue has two stand-alone pieces, an essay by the novelist Vladimir Sharov “What We Are Founded on” (the title hints at certain foundations, present-day and eternal, intrinsic to Russia) and an article by Erik Martin, “Mistake as a Creative Resource in Nabokov's Novel «The Gift»”.
As usual, the issue ends with a bibliography section. Petr Rezvykh reviews Russian intellectual journals, while Andrey Tikhomirov's piece covers three books by the Ukrainian historian Andrey Portnov. Among the New Books section is Polina Barskova's response to the first novel about the Siege of Leningrad (“The Siege”) by Anatoly Darov, first published in 1946 in Munich and recently reissued.