SUMMARY
Summary

[PP 278 – 279 of the issue's paper version]

 

The 111th NZ issue focuses on three principal topics. The first two are organised into sections, while the third can be “reconstructed” from a number of stand-alone pieces, which are given separate column space.

The first section of this issue, titled “What It Means to Live in a Federation”, contains three pieces. The opening article, which sets the “theoretical tone” for the entire section, is “The Many Uses of Federalism” by the American political scientist and law scholar Donald Horowitz, published here in translation. It discusses practical implementations of the principle of federalism under various political, economic, social and cultural conditions and its interactions with local customs. Horowitz considers advantages of federalism, as well as what he terms its “unrealised potential”. The article is followed by two case studies illustrating the theoretical points made by Horowitz. In one of them the NZ editor Andrey Zakharov presents a historical survey of the establishment of federalism in Argentina in the mid to late 19th century. The section concludes with “Reviewing the Federative Contract in Russia: The Case of the Chechen Republic” by Andrey Starodubtsev, in which the “Chechen theme” is explored in the context of the federal organisation of post-Soviet Russia. A tie-in to the topic of this section is Andrey Zakharov's review of the book “Iraqi Federalism and the Kurds: Learning to Live Together” by Alex Danilovich.

The second topical section, “Thanatology of Cinema: Death and the Screen”, is a somewhat new departure for NZ. The pieces included in it straddle such fields as cultural studies, “pure philosophy”, psychoanalysis and film studies. Cinema is known to be one of modernity's most vivid creations. What the authors refer to as thanatology – a particular way of thinking about, or around, a particular object called death – also belongs to the modern period. The section contains five articles. Viktor Mazin's essay offers “The Basis of Necropractice”, introducing a way of thinking characteristic of thanatology, mostly exemplified by the work of Petersburg necrorealists. Nina Savchenkova analyses the rhetorical positions of death – considered as a subject, a plot device and an analytic frame – in cinema. The American Slavist and philosopher Dragan Kujundzic concentrates on the subject of vampirism in cinema, introducing the notion of “cinetaph” (a play on “cenotaph”) in his essay “Cinetaph: Cinema as a Vampire”. The section has been compiled by Olga Kirillova, who puts the subject of thanatology of cinema in the context of different notions of decadence, interpreted both as a metaphor for historical thinking and as a way of thinking about art. The section concludes with an article by Maria Gribova offering a philosophical interpretation of death in cinema. Another related piece is “Photography and the Extralogical Form. The Taxonomic Model and Figure of the Other” by Ekaterina Vasilyeva, where the subject (or more precisely, “figure”) of death is viewed through the lens of photography.

The third topic running through this issue brings us back to the historical period and the region that have often been addressed by NZ. This is the era of national states emerging in the wake of the empires that collapsed as a result of WWI. The section discusses the fate of these states and of the entire region, Eastern and Central Europe, often referred to as Bloodlands, after Timothy Snyder's popular book. “History and brutalisierte Kultur: Eastern and Central Europe in the 20 century” by Ivan Zhigal is published under Politics of Culture. Another regular topic, Case Study, is split into two parts. The first of them reports on the activity of émigré student fraternities in interwar Latvia; a fascinating story with forays into the history of similar organisations in Poland and some other countries. Irina Rudik's article also features a protagonist, Konstantin Rodzevich, a figure familiar to historians of Russian literature through his links to Marina Tsvetaeva.

From the main subjects of 111th issue we turn to one of the main historical subjects of this year: the centenary of the Russian Revolution. While NZ is planning a special issue on the subject, we begin our “preparations for the anniversary” in the current one, publishing two essays by our regular columnists: “The Ghost of an Anniversary” by Ilya Kalinin (Political Economy of the Everyday) and “Revolution and Drink: On the Anniversary of a Truly Revolutionary Book” by Kirill Kobrin (Old World Chronicles). The “anniversary of a truly revolutionary book” mentioned in Kobrin's title is the 50th anniversary of Guy Debord's famous “Society of the Spectacle”.

Also in this issue one can read the second instalment of Georgy Derluguian's “After Our Post-Modernity: Optimistic Notes on Sociocultural Prerequisites of Economic Growth in the Not-So-Isolated Case of Armenia” (Morals and Mores). In the other part of Case Study Vladislav Degtyarev continues his series of essays on little-known stories sourced from British and American history of culture and history of art in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. This time Degtyarev focuses on the figure of Augustus Welby Pugin, recognised as the creator of Big Ben in London. Finally, Culture of Politics features an essay by Konstantin Pakhalyuk “The First World War and the Memory on it in the Modern Russia”. This is a detailed study of the “history of the memory” of WWI in the West, which Pakhalyuk compares to the way this catastrophic event of the last century was remembered, particularly in relation to its centenary, in post-Soviet Russia.

This NZ issue also includes our regular columns by Alexander Kustarev (Political Imaginary) and Alexey Levinson (Sociological Lyrics). It closes with a New Books section which features, in particular, Alexander Klinsky's review of “The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die” by the prominent British popular historian Niall Ferguson.