Deposit“The Aesthetic Terrain of Settler Colonialism: Katherine Mansfield and Anton Chekhov’s Natives” (2018)

While Anton Chekhov’s influence on Katherine Mansfield is widely acknowledged, the two writers’ settler colonial aesthetics have not been brought into systematic comparison. Yet Chekhov’s chronicle of Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East parallels in important ways Mansfield’s near-contemporaneous account of colonial life in New Zealand. Both writers were concerned with a specific variant of the colonial situation: settler colonialism, which prioritises appropriation of land over the governance of peoples. This essay considers the aesthetic strategies each writer developed for capturing that milieu in their travel writings within the framework of the settler colonial aesthetics that has guided much anthropological engagement with endangered peoples.

DepositNarrating and mapping Russia: From Terra Incognita to a charted space on the road to Cathay

In the 16th century most of Russia is still a terra incognita with a highly dubious and mostly mythologized geography, anthropology, and sociology. In this article we look at some texts of the Early Modern period – Sir Thomas Smithes Voiage and Entertainment in Rushia (1605), Peter Mundy’s Travel Writings of 1640–1641, and The Voiages and Travels of John Struys (1676–1683) – and try to uncover the transformation of the obscure country into a more or less charted space, filled with narratives of adventures and travels in an enigmatic land on the verge of Europe, where exotic cultures are drawn together in a flamboyant mix. It is travel narrative that actually charts the territory and provides an explanation from which stems a partial understanding, physical and cultural, of the “Land of the Unpredictable.”

DepositThrough the Opaque Veil: The Gothic and Death in Russian Realism

This chapter examines nineteenth-century Russian writers who drew on the Gothic in order to explore the experience of death, existential terror, and the possibility of an afterlife within the bounds of literary realism. In Turgenev’s story ‘Bezhin Meadow’ and Chekhov’s sketch ‘A Dead Body’, Gothic language and imagery create a narrative frame that contextualizes an encounter between peasants and a traveller focused around a discussion of death. This chapter argues that the Gothic is juxtaposed with folk belief in these works, to underscore that both the peasants’ dvoeverie and educated Russia’s interest in natural sciences, materialist philosophy, and the pseudo-science of spiritualism represent attempts to systematise and explain the unknown. The Gothic mediates the tension between science and faith, the irrational and the prosaic, and the abject and the mysterious, while allowing these ruminations to remain ambiguously unfinalised for the reader.


In his fiction, journalism and letters, Dostoevsky recurrently mentions ethnicity of his protagonists. Russians, Poles, Englishmen, Germans, Turks, Greeks etc. never act as individuals with their personal life but rather as ‘carriers’ of some national idea. Amidst the nations represented in Dostoevsky’s oeuvre, there are some Jews. The fashion of how Dostoevsky portraits them was questionable even at the writer’s lifespan. Arkadii Kovner’s and Sophia Lurie’s letters to Dostoevsky are quite known as well as their direct indictment of the writer in Anti-Semitism. After 1920s, Dostoevsky’s attitude toward Jews turns into a difficult topic of Dostoevsky Studies. In the article, we trace how Dostoevsky uses words which traditionally refer to Jews and show their semantics as highly dispersed. We find the writer’s affinity to use words ‘a Jew’, ‘a Hebrew’ and even ‘an Yid’ with dubious or even without any links to real Jews. Based on private letters of Dostoevsky and his journalism, we derive two Jewish images – positive and negative – which are quite constant in the writer’s texts. Dostoevsky bindingly connects Jews with Judaism, i.e. its practises, traditions and rituals. Thus, he is mostly sympathetic to ‘serious Jews’ – traditionalists. Vice versa, he is rigorously critical to the secular ones. Dostoevsky looks at the polemics of the traditionalists and the ‘maskilim’ and perceives it as a parallel to Russian debates around the Westernization. In the both conflicts, Dostoevsky’s sympathies are with people who keep traditions while he perceives those who decline a ‘national body’ as his own ideological ‘foes’.

DepositŠestaja čast’ kadra”. Vosstanovlenie vertovskogo “Čelovek s kinoapparatom” / “The Sixth of the Frame”. Vertov’s “Man with a Movie Camera” restored.

Outlines the restoration of the Russian film classic “Man with a Movie Camera” (USSR, 1929) by Dziga Vertov which was carried out by the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam between 2008 and 2010. The restoration allows contemporary audiences the possibility to once again experience Vertov’s film as the filmmaker originally intended – or at least in a version that comes as close to this as is nowadays possible. The project has been supervised by senior curator Mark-Paul Meyer, while the author had the chance and pleasure to contribute with archival research.

DepositExteriority Is Not a Negation, But a Marvel: Hospitality, Terrorism, Levinas, Beowulf

This essay considers Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy of hospitality in relation to the “isolated and heroic being that the state produces by its virile virtues,” through an analysis of female Chechen suicide terrorists in contemporary Russia and the figure of Grendel in the Old English poem “Beowulf,” in order to raise some questions about the relation between violence, justice, and sovereignty, both in the Middle Ages and in our own time.

DepositJustificaciones populistas de la guerra? La intervención rusa en el este de Ucrania

In the context of the war between Ukraine and Russia in the Donbass and the earlier crisis over Crimea, this paper examines four speeches by Vladimir Putin to identify and map populist elements in his discursive and formal strategies of justifying and creating a specific form of conflict. The analysis shows how this populism goes beyond the people/establishment dichotomy and is based on complex notions of enmity and alliance, a very broad definition of the Russian nation, a new division of the political space, and the introduction of new symbols of unity and the reaffirmation of old ones beyond the borders of today’s Russia. This casts a new shadow over Russian foreign policy in the post-Soviet space. Clarity is sought on questions about the Ukrainian conflict, but it is also hoped new elements will be brought to the existing literature on populism.