Essays

Essays are selected scholarly articles published without prior peer-review process.

Letters from the heart of darkness Dr. Ludvig Moberg, ethnographic collections, and the logic of colonial violence

It was very common to force people to work for the Congo Free State, and the point of building the railway was to make transportations easier and to get rid of the time-consuming caravans. It is probably one of these men, forced to work until he died, that Moberg collected the skull from. There is no explanation for why he collected skulls in the first place, but he studied medicine for his exam when returning to Sweden.

Essay by Johan Hegardt June 18, 2018

Christian Brinton: A modernist icon A portrait and a study of the collector

Like the lives of the saints, Brinton consciously crafted his own vita, iconography, and legend by inserting himself within the genealogy of his collection. From the portrait icon to the pious patron, the portraits of Christian Brinton tell us something of not only the actor, but also the narrative of Russian art that the collector constructed.

Essay by Mechella Yezernitskaya June 18, 2018

The Icons of “the Red Banker” Olof Aschberg and the transactions of social capital

Just as the Soviets could trade “Rembrandts for tractors,” Aschberg could trade icons for social capital, while his donations also served the purpose of establishing links between himself in Paris and his business, cultural, and political contacts in Stockholm and ensuring the longevity of Swedish contacts with its great neighbor to the east, Russia.

Essay by Carl Marklund June 18, 2018

Scattering, collecting, and scattering again The invention and management of national heritage in the USSR

It is here claimed that it is practically impossible to determine whether the collector and connoisseur in question (namely Igor Immanuilovich Grabar, 1879—1960) was, indeed, saving his objects from scattering and destruction — or contributing to their further enslavement by exploiting them in a capacity that was radically alien, if not inimical, to their nature.

Essay by Irina Sandomirskaja June 18, 2018

Imperial scatter Some personal encounters and reflections

The Basilys had both the means and opportunities to collect and exhibit Imperial elite art and books. In doing so, it is argued here that they wished to present an alternative narrative of Russia’s past to the Soviet political, economic, and modernist artistic program that they witnessed unfolding in Soviet Russia.

Essay by Edward Kasinec June 18, 2018

Longing for order the post-Soviet architectural discourse in Lithuania

Lithuanian architecture of the past 25 years is a mirror of social decomposition is here argued. It is suggested that is should serve as a space for engagement with outcomes of this decomposition instead of glossing over it. Further that architecture and architects might contribute to the dissensus in all spheres of life existing today, or might cultivate fantasies about the social unity and spirituality of their art-craft.

Essay by Arnoldas Stramskas June 18, 2018

Experiences of women at war Servicewomen during WWII and in the Ukrainian armed forces in the conflict in Donbas

This paper examines women’s contribution to war and the perceptions of that contribution by comparing experiences of women in the Red Army during the Second World War and in the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the conflict in the Donbas region. Here it is argued that in both cases structural gender discrimination was ingrained in the military, which accepted women’s contribution to war in times of need, but treated that contribution as subsidiary, thereby distorting men’s and women’s experiences of warfare and facilitating the instrumentalized militarization of women.

Essay by Olesya Khromeychuk March 8, 2018

Beasts, demons, and cold bitches Memories of communist women in contemporary Poland

Agnieszka Mrozik analyzes the portrayals of women communists in the Stalinist period in Poland, produced in the framework of nationalist history during the illiberal turn. She argues that biographies of women dignitaries served the broader political function of delivering a cautionary tale against “excessive” liberation of women, so that female communists were often presented as beasts and demons rather than political agents.

Essay by Agnieszka Mrozik March 8, 2018

In the Russian Imperial Consciousness. Early Photography and Railroad The Poetics of the Chinese Eastern Railroad

This paper is devoted to the semantics of the visual images of the Chinese-Eastern Railroad (KVGD)1 and the “Oriental Other” in the Russian public consciousness of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here it is that the construction of the KVGD was intended to be a symbol of the technological progress and spiritual strength of the Russian Empire in the Russian mass consciousness.

Essay by Viktoriya Sukovata March 8, 2018

Monuments as reminders and triggers A contemporary comparison between memory work in Ukraine and the US

There are parallels in discussions about monuments in Ukraine and the USA. The reminder of the Soviet past (or in the American context, of the Confederacy) is an abject that is difficult to assimilate. On the one hand, the abject is our unwillingness to see the past and accept it; on the other hand, for those who associate themselves with this past, this is the threat of castration because through the negation of a given past a certain group is cast out from the space of representation. That is why it is questionable whether a monument can be inclusive at all. Which memory does the monument recall? Which past is castrated when a new monument is built? Which groups are fighting for recognition and representation? Which groups lose this right? These questions confront researchers and memory workers and are discussed in this essay.

Essay by Yuliya Yurchuk November 10, 2017