Volume Eleven, 2018-2019

Editor-in-Chief
Roman Koropeckyj (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

Managing Editor
Dane Michael Reighard (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

Assistant Editor
Michael Lavery (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

Online Editor: Susan Bauckus (Center for World Languages)
Undergraduate Advisor: Yelena Furman (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures)

Editorial Board
Peter Winsky (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures),
Lydia Roberts (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures),
Nicholas Fedosenko (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures),
Nana Osei-Opare (History)

Introduction

Dane Reighard, Managing Editor, UCLA Michael Lavery, Assistant Editor, UCLA

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The “I” Epidemic: Revolution and Identity in Zamiatin's "We"

Joanna Burdzel, College of the Holy Cross

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    In Yevgeny Zamiatin’s dystopian novel We, first published in 1924, a necessary condition for revolution is the individuation of the self, represented by the journey of cipher D-503 of the totalitarian One State. This individuation is described as a process of contrast and reflection, characterized by several transformative external experiences that challenge D-503 to orient himself inwardly and to contemplate his identity. These external experiences begin with D-503’s intuitive recognition of the irrational in his self—referred to as the √-1—in contrast to the reason, logic, and order of the One State, and include his relationships with female ciphers 1-330, O-90, and U; his dwelling in the Ancient House and in his state-owned apartment; and his interactions with the simultaneously material and natural world. Throughout the narrative D-503 struggles to define and place himself between the “we” and the “they” of revolution, a contrast that demands a submersion into the intermediary “I.” The wisdom he attains during this journey of individuation can be communicated only through the irrational: love, laughter, and the fantastic.

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Religious Manipulation and Ethnic Conflict: An Investigation of Genocide in Bosnia

Elhan Busuladzic, Sewanee: The University of the South

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    Focusing on the Bosnian genocide, this paper examines the influence and appropriation of religious ideology and imagery in nationalist politics. Following Josip Broz Tito’s death and Slobodan Milošević’s declaration of Serbian hegemony, the former Yugoslavia’s socialist government simultaneously saw the increased use of religious authority and the manipulation of collective memory to justify ethnic cleansing against former friends and neighbors, manifesting itself in linguistic, cultural, and corporeal forms of destruction. External forces, however, were equally complicit in permitting ethnic cleansing. This paper examines how Western powers’ dismissal of genocide in the Balkans together with the Afghan Mujahideen’s exploitation of violence against Muslims further exacerbated the terror in Bosnia, allowing for both native aggressors and foreign agents to discursively present violence as imperative in the pursuit of ethno-religious purity.

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Mistaken Identity: Why Realism Fails and Constructivism Succeeds in Understanding Russia

Taylor Freitas, University of California, Los Angeles

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    This paper evaluates and compares the merits of realism and constructivism, the two analytical lenses that are most commonly applied to understanding Russia in the academic study of international relations (IR). In order to assess the advantages and disadvantages of each IR theory, I apply them in my analysis of Russian and Soviet foreign policy decisions made during key events in Russian history: World War I, World War II, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Ukrainian crisis. I argue that constructivism provides more comprehensive and convincing explanations for Russian leaders’ actions as realism fails to identify the motives behind seemingly irrational foreign policy decisions. This paper concludes with a recommendation for Western leaders to adopt a foreign policy approach toward Russia informed by constructivist theory with the goal of improving diplomatic relations.

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NATO Enlargement and Russia's Balance-of-Power Policy

Persia Goudarzi, University of California, Los Angeles

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    This article examines the development of Russia’s foreign policy in response to the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the post-Cold War era. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic and political instability of the newly-formed Russian Federation left it in a vulnerable geopolitical position. Russian leaders eager to integrate their country with the West hoped to cooperate with and possibly join NATO. Integration with the alliance appeared unlikely, however, as NATO soon expanded eastward to build a European security structure that excluded Russia. This prompted a shift in Russian foreign policy toward creating a balance of power to counter NATO. Moscow’s top foreign policy agenda focused on strengthening ties and forming alliances in Central Asia. The first alliance to result from this policy, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), is an intergovernmental military alliance comprising six former Soviet republics. The second such alliance, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), has primarily focused on security cooperation among its members. The two organizations cooperate politically, militarily, and economically, creating a military bloc with deterrence capabilities and security missions designed to form a counter-structure to NATO in the East. Through these two alliances, Russia continues to substantially expand and reinforce its ties with geopolitically important regions in the East while posing a significant challenge to the global hegemony of the West.

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Change and Continuity of the Masculine Ideal in the Byzantine and Slavic Epic

Shaimaa Khanam and Simon Prado, Florida State University

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    This paper examines how the acculturation of civil and military conventions in later Byzantium and other Orthodox lands led to diverse normalized concepts of the ideal male figure. The material for our study is found in the Greek and Slavic versions of the Byzantine romantic epic Digenis Akritis, composed in the twelfth to the fifteenth century. The poem’s eponymous hero, whose name means “of two origins,” is the son of a Muslim Arab Emir; his mother is the daughter of a Greek Christian general. This romantic epic, devoted to its hero’s “warlike and amorous exploits,” such as war games, hunting, raiding, and bride-stealing, created models for masculinity that would satisfy the socio-cultural and ideological needs of Byzantium and its neighbors. Each of its extant versions, composed in a different place and time, offers a different model. Our study is inspired by the work of our colleagues Ravital Goldgof and Lily Shelton, whose research focused on the roles and agency of women in Digenis. Although gender studies in Byzantium have drawn considerable attention in recent years, masculinity studies have been scarce. One recent major contribution by Myrto Hatzaki has informed our work but has no direct bearing on our particular data, which consists of military and pedagogical conventions—including horsemanship, armed combat and looting, book learning, and rearing—and the expectations associated with them.

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Shades of Red: Relative Truth and the Breakdown of the Black-and-White War in Babel's "Red Cavalry"

Miranda Lupion, The University of Pennsylvania

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    Abstract: This paper examines how Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry emphasizes the fragility of objective truth and, by extension, the binary of good and evil in war. Using purposeful distortions of history and literary devices that foreground the characters’ own voices, Babel highlights the gap between relative truth and official truth during the Polish-Soviet War. Through his reporting, Babel’s narrator Lyutov is forced to confront various relative truths that contradict the Red Army’s official narrative, leading him to doubt the validity of institutions, such as the revolution, that claim a single and rigid truth.

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Under Their Roof: The Normalization of Organized Crime in Post-Soviet Russia

Heleana Melendez, University of California, Los Angeles

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    This paper examines the factors behind the Russian mafia’s consolidation of power during perestroika and the post-Soviet period. Capitalizing on widespread social instability, organized crime groups infiltrated the economic, legal, and political systems of the newly-established Russian Federation and assumed various roles that the state was unable to fulfill. The mafia normalized its presence in Russian society through the provision of both legal and illegal services and quickly replaced the official structures set in place by the government. Studying the normalization of the Russian mafia helps explain its continued presence in Russia today and sheds light on the tactics employed by organized crime groups in other parts of the world, such as in Central America.

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Security, Morality, and Identity: The Late and Post-Soviet Dacha as Socio-Symbolic Space and Practice

Anna Perkins, St. Olaf College

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    In the late and post-Soviet period (c. 1980 to the early 2000s), millions of Russians acquired and maintained their own dachas, or “country homes.” To understand the significance of dacha life and the cultural meanings associated with it in this era, this article examines the dacha as a socio-symbolic space and practice. Synthesizing oral history and ethnographic data from anthropological and sociological works, I explore the ways in which dacha inhabitants physically and symbolically constructed the space of the dacha through the practices of building and food cultivation as well as the ways in which these practices and the constructed space shaped the identities and ideologies of the the dacha’s inhabitants. Introducing primary sources among long-standing discourses on morality, physical labor, and national identity, I argue that through the practice of “doing dacha,” the late and post–Soviet dacha became a space of real and symbolic security, solidifying the inhabitant’s identity as moral, self-sufficient, and quintessentially “Russian.”

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Chaos and Conflict in the Kremlin's Strategy: Russian Foreign Policy in the “Near Abroad”

James Reston, Wesleyan University

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    Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s foreign policy agenda in the former Soviet republics has aimed at maintaining the country’s hegemonic position in the region. Russian leaders have capitalized on the instability created by internecine conflicts on the periphery of the former Soviet Union by prolonging these conflicts into protracted “frozen conflicts” through both official and unofficial means. This allows Russia to unilaterally negotiate the peace process and assert itself as the guarantor of stability in the region. This paper will examine three contested regions that serve as case studies of Russia’s foreign policy in the “near abroad”: Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, and Abkhazia. In each of these regions, Russia has supported and cooperated with various sides in these conflicts by blurring the distinction between the actions of the Russian state and those of “independent actors.” This paper concludes with a short comparison of Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea and its attempt at maintaining a “frozen” conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

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The Eurasianist Appeal: How Neo-Eurasianism Justifies Putin's Foreign Policy

Kathleen Robbins, University of California, Los Angeles

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    This article examines the assertions of an increasingly dominant political identity framework in post-Soviet Russia called neo-Eurasianism, the original iteration of which was a philosophical ideology conceived by a group of multidisciplinary Russian interwar émigré intellectuals. Neo-Eurasianism emerged in Russian politics in the 1990s and is today articulated most zealously by a man named Aleksandr Dugin. Dugin’s neo-Eurasianism posits the existence of a Eurasian cultural unity that binds the Eurasian continent; he borrows ideas from geopolitical theory to divide the world into civilizations, claiming that Eurasian Civilization is fundamentally at odds with Atlantic civilization. This article traces the advancement of neo-Eurasianist geopolitical ideas from the periphery of Russian politics to the core of Vladimir Putin’s justification for the aggressive foreign policy of his third presidential term. Putin has promoted neo-Eurasianism in order to realize his goal of establishing a functioning Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), demonstrating a preoccupation with influencing the Eurasian space.

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Unstable Stability: Russia and the International Monetary Fund in the 1990s

Melissa Shostak, University of Pittsburgh

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    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established at the end of the Second World War to promote economic stability and openness. While many nations in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia became members of the IMF, the Soviet Union declined to join. Following the Soviet Union’s collapse, many of the Newly Independent States, including Russia, sought membership in order to receive economic advice and loans. These transitioning economies, however, were profoundly different from those the IMF originally was intended to support. In this paper, I present Russia as a case study illustrating the effect of the IMF’s foreign exchange policy on a country that was previously isolated from the international monetary regime. First, I will analyze the factors that contributed to the Soviet Union’s rejection of IMF membership and how this decision affected the structure of its monetary regime. Next, I will analyze the economic factors that later prompted the Soviet Union to seek IMF membership. Then I will assess Russia’s monetary policy during the mid-1990s and deconstruct the ways in which this policy affected economic stability. Finally, I will evaluate the effectiveness of the IMF’s suggested monetary policy.

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