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Events

The Russian Section has had the great privilege of hosting a number of writers, translators, and scholars. These events allow students to engage directly with Russian culture and to supplement their studies in exciting ways. Our recent guests include…
2018-2019: poet Maria Stepanova, artist and graphic reporter Victoria Lomasko, writer and filmmaker Vladimid Kozlov, Oscar-shortlisted documentarian Marianna Yarovskaya, poet Yuri Andrukhovych, Nonviolence International representative Andre Kamenshikov
2017-2018: novelist Mikhail Shishkin, poet and scholar Polina Barskova, contemporary poet Alexandra Petrova, professor Dominic Rubin
2016-2017: professor Jon Stone
2015-2016: Olga Demidova and Pavel Khazanov, musical group Zolotoy Plyos
2014-2015: Matthew Mangold, translator Olga Bukhina, theatre specialist Susanna Weygandt
2013-2014: translators Ainsley Morse, Bela Shayevich, Susan Bernofsky, and Peter Daniels 
2012-2013: translator Jill Levine, professor Anindita Banerjee

Pussy Riot (Nadya Tolokonnikova) - Moderated Discussion/Q&A AND Concert

Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, Science Center 101, 7-8 p.m.

Join us for a conversation with Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot. We will discuss such topics as Russian politics, the threat authoritarianism, activism and protest, prison advocacy, and her experiences working in both Russia and the US.

Tolokonnikova is a founding member of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot. In 2011, Pussy Riot began staging unauthorized guerrilla performances in public locations, promoting gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and opposition to Vladimir Putin. In 2012, Tolokonnikova was convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after being arrested during a performance in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. After nearly two years in a prison labor camp, Tolokonnikova has continued creating protest music. Along with fellow Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, she founded Zona Prava, which provides legal defense and counseling to those threatened by unlawful actions taken by corrections officials, investigators, or judges in Russia. She was named a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International, and received the LennonOno Grant for Peace in 2012, as well as the prestigious Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought. Her first collaboration with producer Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), “Chaika,” was released in February 2016, and her debut EP, xxx, released in October of the same year.

Concert, Thursday, Sept. 26, Upper Tarble, 9-10:30 p.m.

Pussy Riot (Nadya Tolokonnikova + others) will perform a concert in Upper Tarble. Get ready to dance!

Tolokonnikova is a founding member of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot. In 2011, Pussy Riot began staging unauthorized guerrilla performances in public locations, promoting gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and opposition to Vladimir Putin. In 2012, Tolokonnikova was convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after being arrested during a performance in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. After nearly two years in a prison labor camp, Tolokonnikova has continued creating protest music. Along with fellow Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, she founded Zona Prava, which provides legal defense and counseling to those threatened by unlawful actions taken by corrections officials, investigators, or judges in Russia. She was named a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International, and received the LennonOno Grant for Peace in 2012, as well as the prestigious Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought. Her first collaboration with producer Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), “Chaika,” was released in February 2016, and her debut EP, xxx, released in October of the same year.

Activism in the Age Under Totalitarianism: A Conversation with Masha Gessen

In her most recent book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, famed journalist Masha Gessen charts the paths of several Russians in the post-Soviet era against the machinations of the regime that would crush them all and against the war it waged on knowledge itself, which ensured the reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today’s terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state. Powerful and urgent, The Future Is History is a cautionary tale for our time and for all time. Please join us for a wide-ranging discussion with Gessen on Russian politics, totalitarianism, and resistance.. 

Masha Gessen is the author of the National Book Award-winning The Future Is History as well as The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy and several other books. A staff writer at the New Yorker and the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Carnegie Fellowship, Gessen teaches at Amherst College, and lives in New York City.

Free copies of The Future Is History will be available for autographing after the talk.

Masha Gessen photo
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Russian LGBTQ+, Queer Culture and Contemporary Identity Politics

In this talk, Vlad Strukov will assess the recent history of Russian LGBTQ+ by considering the effects of the 2013 "anti-gay propaganda" law on the community. While there are limits to the legal protection of the LGBTQ+ people, their freedom of expression remains strong. Strukov will analyze a range of cultural artifacts that allow us to have a deeper understanding of Russian queer culture. In particular, he will focus on Kirill Serebrennikov, a prominent Russian filmmaker and stage-director, who is responsible for a number of productions that query our notions of gender and sexuality. In 2017, Serebrennikov was accused of embezzling state funds and spent almost two years under house arrest. Strukov will use the example of Serebrennikov to account for how the Russian government and Russian people participate in contemporary identity politics on the global stage and to reveal how queer culture/art is created under a repressive regime.

Vlad Strukov is an Associate Professor in Film and Digital Culture at the University of Leeds. He has previously been a visiting professor or researcher at the Universities of Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Helsinki, London, and Pittsburgh. He is also an independent art and film curator, showing the work of emerging artists in Leeds, London, St. Petersburg, and Venice. He makes regular appearances in international media such as Al Jazeera, NPR, and BBC. In his academic work, he explores theories of contemporaneity, technologies of vision, global journalism, and grassroots media, using Europe and Russia as his primary case studies. Strukov has published widely on topics including Russian geopolitics, cinema of memory, Russophone media in Russia and abroad, digital conservatism and patriotism, Pussy Riot, Putinism, and Internet media policies. 

Sponsored by the Sager Series, Russian, and the Swarthmore Project for East European Relations. 

Tuesday, Nov. 19
4.30 p.m.
McCabe Library Atrium

Vlad Strukov
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Mikhail Shishkin

Mikhail Shishkin: Migration Stories & the Refugee Crisis (April 25, 2018): After working as an interpreter for refugees seeking asylum at the Swiss border, emigre-dissident Mikhail Shishkin incorporated this experience into his novel Maidenhair. The stories he presents offer a more human(e) perspective that encourages empathy, that transcends statistics by delving deep into the stories of the displaced, and that emphasizes the power of storytelling as a means to transform our perceptions and sympathies. In addition to his reading at Swarthmore, Shishkin visited Russian 053 to discuss his more recent novel,The Light and the Dark.

Mikhail Shishkin's book Maidenhair
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
Mikhail Shishkin
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Polina Barskova

Besieged Cities & the Poetics of Trauma: A Lecture and Reading with Polina Barskova (April 12, 2018): In her work both as a cultural historian of the Leningrad siege and as one of Russia’s leading poets, Polina Barskova explores the connections between art, trauma, and history. Through her lecture, we learned about how poetry both shapes and is shaped by urban catastrophes. Through her poetry reading, we witnessed this artistry in action. Barskova also visited Russian 053 to speak with students about her work.

Polina Barskova
Polina Barskova
Polina Barskova
Polina Barskova
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