The 106th NZ issue focuses on the following topics: rent economy, urban festival “industry”, and the Soviet/post-Soviet school as a place where some crucial issues – social, political and cultural – are revealed. Accordingly, the contents are mainly organised into three topical sections.
In the first section, titled “Rent Economy: Discussing Basic Income”, Vladislav Inozemtsev provides some theoretical and historical grounds on which to discuss the issue of “unconditional basic income” (UBI). The governments of the Netherlands, Finland and Switzerland have recently proposed to implement basic income schemes, whereby a fixed amount is to be paid to every resident of the country regardless of their wealth or activities for public good. “Rent Society and the Latest «Spirit of Capitalism»”, by Leonid Fishman, considers various historical examples related to past attempts to introduce similar arrangements, while also offering a survey of opinions on the matter. The section concludes with a piece by Dmitry Davydov, addressing a question engendered by UBI schemes: are they a step towards communism or towards what is known as “rent society”?
The next topical section, “Emotional Education, or What They Teach at School”, opens with an article by Mikhail Pavlovets on the history of the school literary canon. The author traces its development from the late 19th century, when a Russian literature course was first adopted by gymnasiums, to the end of the Soviet era. The piece is the first part of a survey; the second part, where Pavlovets considers the post-Soviet state of affairs and the current debates around the role of literature in the secondary school programme, will appear in a later issue of NZ. As the reader may know, in the autumn of 2016, following the introduction of the “national school history curriculum”, Russia plans to begin the official process of compiling a “national school literature curriculum”. Another much-debated school subject, Foundations of Orthodox Culture, as well as various religious studies courses are examined by Anna Ozhiganova in “Battle for School. Modernisers and Clericalists”. In “Other People's Letters: The Boundaries Between the Public and the Private in School-Themed Films of the 1960ies”, Vadim Mikhailin and Galina Belyaeva turn to the films that use a school plot to explore a social behaviour model imposed by the ruling ideology; importantly, these films also reflect changes in the Soviet psychological atmosphere between the late 1950s and the late 1970s.
The third section of this issue talks about what has been happening to cities that have over the past decades hosted large-scale festivals and “mega-events”, while also considering the foundations and mechanisms of the “festival industry” in relation to certain places. The section begins with a piece by Gordon Waitt, an Australian urban scholar and social anthropologist. Titled “Urban Festivals: Geographies of Hype, Helplessness and Hope”, it presents a conceptual outline of the latest stage in the life of many cities dominated by “service economy”, particularly in the entertainment industry. One typical example is Edinburgh, the “festival city”, which phenomenon, along with the dark side of its “festival economy”, is examined in “Edinburgh: The Festival Gaze and Its Boundaries”, an article by Kirstie Jamieson, a former cultural worker, who organised a number of festivals in the capital of Scotland. The section concludes with Elena Trubina's essay on urban festivals and celebrations in Nizhny Novgorod. Offering a survey of some of the latest (as well as forthcoming) celebratory events in the city, the piece also looks at some features of the “urban entertainment industry”, both universal and those specific to Russia (“Celebrations in Nizhny Novgorod: Entertaining People in a City under Hammer”).
The topic of this section is extended in Oleg Lysenko's article (first part of this article see in the previous issue) on sociocultural – and, to an extent, political – consequences of the so-called “Perm Cultural Project” of the late 2000s (Morals and Mores). Nizhny Novgorod is further considered in an article where Igor Kobylin, using old photographs of the city taken by Maxim Dmitriev and Andrey Karelin, as well as post-Soviet, including perestroika-era, documentaries, analyses the current perception of the pre-revolutionary “Russia we have lost” (Politics of Culture).
This NZ issue includes a number of stand-alone articles on international affairs, cultural history and social anthropology. NZ Interview features a conversation with the British historian Geoffrey Hosking about the current crisis of public trust, which has grown severe and dangerous in today's social and political life. The interview touches upon some of the points made in Hosking's 2014 book “Trust: A History”. Culture of Politics includes a piece in which the orientalist Leonid Isaev discusses the growing geopolitical competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. Lastly, Case Study contains the article by Alek D. Epstein on the history of Soviet and post-Soviet art, titled “Vladimir Yankilevsky and the Origins of Russian Conceptualism”.
This issue also features the latest instalments by NZ regular contributors: the NZ editor Kirill Kobrin (Old World Chronicles), the political scientist Alexander Kustarev (Political Imaginary), and the sociologist Alexey Levinson (Sociological Lyrics).
The issue concludes with Alexander Pisarev's Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review and New Books section with an extensive piece in which the British slavist Catriona Kelly reviews “Landscapes of Communism: A History through Buildings”, a recent book by Owen Hatherley. His response to the reviewer's criticism will be published in the next NZ issue.