Recent Posts

Russian Socialists in the Struggle for Democracy

For the past few weeks, protests for fair elections in upcoming municipal polls have become weekly in Moscow and St. Petersburg as thousands have defied authorities to attend unsanctioned rallies. The police crackdown has been particularly harsh in Moscow. Protests on July 27 and August 3 resulted in over 2000 detentions. Images of police in riot gear wrestling citizens to the ground and beating peaceful protesters were reminiscent of the mass protests against election fraud in 2011-2012.

Members of the Russian Socialist Movement, a small Marxist, anti-Stalinist organization active in the Russian left, have been participants in local electoral campaigns and in the protests. Two RSM activists, Valeria Kovelishina and Ilya Budraitskis talk about the Russian Socialist Movement, their electoral work, the protests for democracy in Russia and what they might mean for the future.

Witnessing the Collapse of Communism


Roundtable discussion marking the 30th anniversary of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Participants include Timothy Garton Ash, Bridget Kendall, and Jens Reich.

The Evictors

Around Moscow, there’s a whole industry of so-called “black creditors” — microfinance institutions (or MFOs) that swindle and seize debtors’ homes. Ivan Golunov’s investigation for Meduza has discovered that almost 500 apartments have been seized from their owners over the past five years without so much as a court order. In fact, this scheme involves more than simply “squeezing” people from their homes. It is possibly part of a wider, international money-laundering system. Here’s Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov on the ins and outs of this industry.

Red Autobiographies

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I recently published a review of Igal Halfin‘s Red Autobiographies: Initiating the Bolshevik Self in the journal NEP Era: Soviet Russia, 1921-1928 (vol. 5, 2011). For those who want a taste of my academic work, here’s the review’s opening paragraph:

For more than fifteen years, Igal Halfin has been a master craftsman in the academic cottage industry of “Soviet subjectivity.”  His work is essential reading, and his texts provide both historical and methodological inroads for the ways discourse enveloped Soviet citizens’ self-representation. While his arguments remain controversial, their influence on our understanding of Soviet subject formation cannot be denied.  It was Halfin along with Jochen Hellbeck who turned Michel Foucault into a permanent fixture in Soviet Studies. Halfin has urged us to take language, narrative structure and their deployment seriously. He even introduced a distinct Halfinian lexicon: “the self,” “brotherhood of the elect,” “the soul,” “towards the light,” “subjectivity,” “conversion,” “poetics,” and “eschatology.” Whatever one thinks of his methods and conclusions, one cannot pose questions about the Soviet subject without engaging Igal Halfin’s work.

You can download a pdf of the review here.