Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Future in the Past / Past in the Future: Grammar of the Present and (Post)Soviet Cinematography


Lecture Date:

Monday, December 12, 7 pm (UTC+3)

This is a public lecture in a series that aims to describe the mechanisms and practices of the mutual intersection of culture and politics in Russia in recent decades. In a situation of shifting economic, social, and ideological coordinates, the absence of a clear image of the future and a modernization strategy, culture (understood as a common national heritage, historical memory, and tradition) began to function as a value horizon that substantiates both the domestic and foreign policy of Putin’s Russia. In a certain way, the codified and normalized Russian culture began to be instrumentally used as the basis for the political identification of society and the legitimization of the existing political regime. Moreover, the elements of cultural identity that link the independent states of the post-Soviet space with the Russian Federation began to be used as a justification for territorial claims and changes in political borders. This course will focus on the cultural wars and cultural alliances that permeate the political fabric of modern Russia and its relations with other states. An analysis of the logic and rhetoric of political arguments referring to the specially constructed concepts of “Russian culture,” “historical Russia,” “national past” will allow a better understanding of the specifics of Russian politics, the trajectory of the conservative turn and the nature of the patriotic consensus that led to the military invasion of Ukraine.