Culture alone can’t provide a quick solution to Russia’s current social and intellectual predicament. Russians need urgently to learn the art of self-analysis before they can move forward.
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Infrastructure in eastern Ukraine has been decimated; business and manufacturing displaced; cultural artifacts destroyed; communities disrupted and families bereaved. In light of all this, the discussion about what Ukraine stands to gain from the war borders on cynicism.
Missile strikes on Ukrainian cities are targeting civilians. Such punishing retaliation for the loss of Moscow’s vital bridge to Crimea further betrays Putin’s brutal tactics. In times of escalating war crimes, centuries old questions about peace and freedom are ever more urgent. What would be a rational horizon for collective hope over time?
Russian anti-war feminists are challenging Putin’s regime by specifically appealing to women over 45. This underrepresented group, they believe, are victims of propaganda. In quickly motivating a non-radical newspaper campaign, which shifts debate from the ideological battlefield to the personal, activists have begun changing opinion about loyalty, revealing harsh realities.
Lives are being lost in a brutal government crackdown on protests for women’s rights after Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody. Can the long-standing control of Iran’s morality police on women be unsettled by a majority already resisting the dress code?
To understand why the imitation of western-style liberal democracy failed post-communist Central Europe, one has to consider the agency of the lead partner, the West. Mimicry is a strategy of colonial power, that stems from the logic of the dominant: it is encouraged on the condition that it fails.
Times have changed, and the conditions that fostered the rise of liberal arts and sciences programs after the start of the Bologna reforms no longer obtain. This raises the question of how the liberal arts and sciences movement will continue in the near future. Can it still have any relevance in a changing context?
Revolution in progress
Voices of Belarusians in exile
The Belarus Revolution started in 2020 after a rigged presidential election. It ended, at least to outward appearances, with Lukashenka’s brutal repression and stricter outlawing of future protests. But, for many, the struggle continues: a new study on protestors’ recollections refutes the perception that the revolution failed.
When Boris Yeltsin told George Bush in 1991 that the USSR couldn’t exist without Ukraine, he wasn’t referring to the economy: culturally, Russia would have been isolated. Today, the same thesis about Slavic identity is being debated with rockets. Serhii Plokhy on Ukraine’s special role in Soviet and post-Soviet history.
Every era has its myths and rituals, doomed to seem absurd to future generations. Today, we believe in psychology, a suspicious science occupying the realm between belief and emotion.
Climate change affects us all yet not equally. The plight of those forced to migrate as a result – often called ‘climate refugees’, though not officially – has become contested ground between human rights/environmental activists and anti-asylum lobbyists. Could ‘ecologically displaced’, avoiding racialization, xenophobia and division, be a viable alternative?
Giorgia Meloni could become Italy’s first female prime minister. Her political rise is no isolated case: ‘femonationalism’ is flourishing throughout Europe, disguising extremes as the next socially acceptable, mainstream choice.
Energy and existence
PEN Ukraine conversations
With Russia closing its gas pipeline to Europe, predicted economic downturns have hit the markets. Skyrocketing energy bills mean production cuts and job losses, as well as a cold winter ahead. With a feared backlash to the Ukrainian cause, discussion between frontline war journalists contextualizes Russia’s power-play tactics.
Defending the family Kremlin-style
Anti-LGBT activism in Lithuania
The war in Ukraine gave Lithuanian anti-gender movements a pretext to postpone debates on civil rights issues, deemed all too divisive in times of geopolitical turmoil. Behind the rhetoric of internal unity, however, is a faithful reproduction of the Kremlin’s crusade against ‘gay propaganda’ and the ‘rotten West’.
From a childhood where fraternity rites were common to playing the lead role in a film about gay love: how a heterosexual, Roma man — a father of three from a traditional community in Ploiești, Romania — overcame his reservations and inhibitions about challenging the masculine norm on-screen.
Taking on imperial knowledge, cultural denial and dogmatic absolutism requires authors who can find their way around tricky narrative strategies, using their wits to juggle cultural preconceptions.