Three major topics running through the 97th NZ issue are related to a certain degree to space: geographical/geopolitical or topographical/sociopolitical.
The issue's first section focuses on the history of post-communist Eastern and South Eastern Europe (“Eastern European Reforms: The Problematic Transitivity of Transit”), it contains three pieces about three former Soviet bloc countries. Tomasz Zarycki, a Warsaw sociologist, traces the fate of the Polish intelligentsia, once one of the strongest opponents of the Soviet regime. Although the collapse of communism has not resulted in all its hopes being fully realised, a new agenda has formed in Polish society over the past 25 years, and the intelligentsia is actively trying to resolve its issues. Lyubov Shishelina analyses the recent history of Hungary, a country where reforms started back “in the Soviet day”, but later came to a standstill, and where the current right-wing nationalist government is supported by the unconditional majority of the population. George-Vadim Tiugea, of the Ovidiu Sincai Institute, Bucharest, gives a fairly detailed conceptual review of the same period in Romania.
The first topical section of this issue is tied in with two further pieces. “Vukovar: Life After the Massacre” (Morals and Mores), an article by the Croatian journalist Dragan Nikolić, talks about former enemies, Serbs and Croatians, living side by side in the city that became a site of tragic events during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. The piece is especially illuminating in the light of the recent developments in Ukraine.
Ukraine is the subject of two articles in the 97th issue, one of which is thematically linked to the section “Eastern European Reforms”. A piece by the Ukrainian historians Andrey Portnov and Tatyana Portnova, titled “The Capital of Stagnation? Dnepropetrovsk's Brezhnev Myth” (Politics of Culture) is in a sense a prequel both to the conflict-riddled history of post-Soviet East Ukraine and to a discussion around the essence and meaning of post-communist reforms in the region.
The issue moves from the geopolitical space of Eastern Europe and the Balkans on to urban spaces. Its second topical section centres on subtle and strong links between the way urban spaces are organised and mass political events happening − or with the potential to happen − in those spaces. The relation between the design of public squares in a number of cities and such events as Kiev's Maidan, London's Occupy movement and Cairo's Arab Spring, is analysed by the British architecture critic Owen Hatherley. The protests that took place in Moscow between 2011 and 2013, their topography, “emotional map” and sociopolitical components are the subject of two articles by Aleksandrina Vanke (“Political Emotions: Russia's 2011−2013 Meetings”) and Egor Sokolov (“«You Don't Even Represent Us»: Forms of the Political Representation of Protest”). The section concludes with an essay by Aleksandra Vagner, a journalist who recorded conversations in the squares of Donbass cities in May 2014, while people voted in the so-called “referendum”.
The third topical section focuses on a wide geographical, political and cultural phenomenon that is “the North” (“Northern Towns: Life on the Other Side of the Arctic Circle”), and it encompasses Russia's polar areas. Nadezhda Zamyatina offers a social analysis of the geographic movements of the region's inhabitants in “Social Forest-Tundra: Geographical Mobility as an Element of the Family Trajectories of the Northern Urban Population”. The North's industrial urbanism and its relationship with nature is the subject of an article by Alla Bolotova; the Polish researcher Kinga Nędza-Sikoniowska reviews the history and current state of the town of Igarka in “Arctic Igarka: Town Detached From the Ground, People Attached to the Town”.
The topic is continued in Kirill Kobrin's regular column, where the NZ editor considers historico-political and cultural problems typical for border territories, as exemplified by the Norwegian Arctic town of Kirkenes.
The 97th issue includes two interviews. The first, is a conversation with the British historian Geoffrey Hosking (NZ Interview) about social and political meanings of trust. An extended version of Hosking's recent work, “Trust: Money, Markets and Society” was published this year; talking to Maria Yashkova, he outlines the main political, social and economical areas where his concepts can be applied. The other interview can, to some degree, be seen as another take on “trust” − or rather, the lamentable lack thereof in the relationships between the state and society in post-Soviet Russia. The conversation with Elena Panfilova (Culture of Politics), the head of Transparency International − Russia, the Center for Anti-Corruption Research and Initiative, conducted by Yulia Schastlivtseva and entitled “The attempt to bundle together patriotism, greed and corruption is just frightening”, is about the most recent facts in Russia's public political and social life.
This issue's regular columns are Alexander Kustarev's Political Imaginary and Alexey Levinson's Sociological Lyrics. This issue concludes with Vyacheslav Morozov's Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review, as well as the New Books section, where Denis Burakov reviews this year's publishing sensation, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty.