Volume Twelve, 2019-2020

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: Michael Lavery, Dane Michael Reighard, Lydia Roberts, Peter Winsky (Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Languages & Cultures), Cody Giddings (History), Melanie Jones (Comparative Literature)


Dane Reighard and Michael Lavery, UCLA

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Russian as a Heritage Language: Teaching Methods Based on Linguistic and Cultural Issues

Nicole Bugrim, University of California, Los Angeles

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    This paper examines the differences between learners of Russian as a second language and heritage language learners—students who are exposed to a language other than English at home—and how those differences affect teaching methods in American language classrooms. To better accommodate the unique needs of heritage students, language classrooms should employ a method known as macrobased teaching, which teaches the language within cultural contexts beginning with complex topics and texts. Teachers should also be expected to possess knowledge of the history of the language and their students’ diverse cultures. Language classrooms must be altered to address both linguistic aspects, such as how the language is acquired and which grammatical topics are focused on, and cultural aspects, such as language anxiety and how language defines identity.

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Doctors, NGOs, and the HIV Epidemic in Russia

Briana Comuniello, Binghamton University

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    This paper examines the political and social factors that have contributed to the growing rate of HIV transmission in Russia and offers a potential solution to the fight against the epidemiological crisis. While the Russian government originally took a proactive role in combating the spread of the disease, stigma and discrimination quickly took hold, and HIV became increasingly associated with marginalized groups like drug users and homosexuals. This compelled the government to adopt a harsh stance of silence on HIV, fostering an atmosphere of fear and ignorance as well as a generation of medical professionals lacking the education to properly treat the afflicted. I argue that the stigma and denial surrounding HIV can start to change if Russian healthcare workers form alliances with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). I spotlight three HIV NGOs—Tomsk AntiAIDS, the Andrey Rylkov Foundation in Moscow, and the Siberian Alternative Center for Health and Social Support in Omsk—and discuss the progress they have made working alongside their local medical communities to increase understanding about HIV. These types of interdisciplinary alliances between public and state players bring together unique resources and perspectives that can serve as a framework for other areas of political and social activism in Russia.

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Outside the Ballot Box: A Case Study on Youth Political Activity During the Putin Administration

Yana Demeshko, University of California, Los Angeles

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    Vladimir Putin has been steadily consolidating power since his ascent to the Russian presidency in 2000, largely at the expense of the economy and political landscape. Throughout the Putin era, youth political activity has been supported both by the government and by opposition groups. This case study will focus on state-supported youth groups and the opposition groups led by 2018 presidential candidate Alexei Navalny. Among the former, most prominent was the state-funded Nashi (Ours), which formed in 2005 Nashi and disbanded in 2012 due primarily to growing controversy over its engagement with Putin’s political opposition. It was swiftly replaced, however, by a new state-sponsored group called Set′ (Network), which remains relatively uncontroversial and continues to mobilize pro-regime youth. Navalny’s groups, on the other hand, advocate for anti-Putin regime change and attribute their success to a persistent use of social media—especially video platforms such as YouTube. Overall, the presence of pro-government political youth organizations is significantly determined by the state of the economy as well as the presence of inclusive and democratic public institutions in the country; without these, the anti-government movement will proliferate.

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Scriabin's Ecstasy: When Poetry and Music Meet

Ross Mitchell, University of California, Los Angeles

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    The Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915) was known not only for his sublime music, but also his evocative poetry. Both his music and his poetry are representative of Russian Symbolism, a fin-de-siècle cultural flowering that produced enigmatic art that was intended to convey messages of profound philosophical and spiritual importance. The influence of Russian Symbolist thought led Scriabin to develop a system of musical symbols that express various concepts from his philosophy. His endeavors in poetry and music were mostly separate, but his poem Ecstasy (1906) and his orchestral tone poem Le Poeme de l’Extase (The Poem of Ecstasy, 1908) form a particularly interesting case of cross-media expression. In this poem and piece, Scriabin attempted to convey the same tale of a spirit creating the universe in a moment of sheer bliss. Unfortunately, to this day no scholar has been able to determine which parts of the poem correspond to which parts of the piece. In attempting to fill this gap, this paper argues that by exploring the parallel evocations of the “Eternal Feminine,” the “Vertiginous Dance,” and the “Divine Summons,” the most pervasive and narratively significant symbols that recur throughout the piece, as well as the underlying sonata form structure of both works, it becomes possible to determine the links between poem and piece.

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The Impact of Korean Cultural Centers on Russian Korean Ethnic Identity

Tatiana Ostwalt, Wake Forest University

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    This paper examines the impact of Korean cultural centers and organizations on the development of Russian Korean cultural and ethnic self-identification in the Russian Far East. Despite suffering deliberate ethnic cleansing and Russification during Soviet rule, the Korean diaspora in the Russian Far East can be considered an example of an ethnic group that has successfully integrated into post-Soviet Russian society while preserving its distinct cultural identity. This is largely thanks to the work of Korean cultural centers and organizations, which help the Russian Korean community maintain its traditions and foster financial and professional success. Although they play an important role in preserving Russian Koreans’ culture and ethnic self-identification, Korean cultural centers and organizations are seldom mentioned in academic discussions of the Korean diaspora. This paper uses original research conducted in the Far East of Russia to analyze how Korean cultural centers and organizations help the Russian Korean community navigate the complex process of forming a cohesive political and cultural identity.

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Women in Kazakhstan in the Soviet and Post-Soviet Eras

Leslie Ro, University of California, Los Angeles

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    This paper traces the evolution of women’s roles in Kazakh society from the Soviet period to the present day. In nearly two decades of independence, Kazakhstan has become a leader among the post-Soviet states of Central Asia in promoting the rights of women. However, as has been the case with other post-Soviet countries, independence has allowed a resurgence of traditional societal mores that present a new set of obstacles to feminist movements in Kazakhstan. This paper argues that the current status of Kazakh women is a result of the complex interaction between the early Soviet efforts to enforce gender equality and the persistence of traditional attitudes toward gender roles from the pre-revolutionary nomadic way of life. The tension between legal guarantees and traditional prejudices remains unresolved to this day.

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Mothers, War, and State in Twenty-First-Century Russia: The Issue of Reform and Accountability

Jacob Sandman, Binghamton University

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    Various events in the past decade have altered the role of Russian soldiers’ mothers as activists in civic-military relations. Following the 2006–2008 military reforms, which began to address long-overlooked issues of abuse and negligence in the armed forces, these women faced a quandary over whether their advocacy group the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers (CSM), in the process of cooperating with the state to affect a system of feedback and response, had also become an extension of the state and its positions at the cost of anti-war activism and the representation of discontented voices. Activist mothers who continue to speak out against abuse and alleged covert deployments of conscript soldiers, such as the head of the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia (UCSMR), Valentina Mel'nikova, are frustrated by state censorship that targets funding from foreign NGOs. They also face widespread indifference among fellow mothers. The lack of transparency concerning military actions and casualties, facilitated in part by a reliance on two-year contract soldiers and volunteers, has led conscripts’ mothers to worry less about them. The mothers of professional soldiers, on the other hand, are often paid for their silence. Increasing official ideological justifications for state actions that are, in fact, welcomed by many mothers, further complicate the tasks of those activists who continue to advance an anti-war position.

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