In Search of the True Russia
The Provinces in Contemporary Nationalist Discourse
Russia's provinces have long held a prominent place in the nation's cultural imagination. Lyudmila Parts looks at the contested place of the provinces in twenty-first-century Russian literature and popular culture, addressing notions of nationalism, authenticity, Orientalism, Occidentalism, and postimperial identity.
Surveying a largely unexplored body of Russian journalism, literature, and film from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Parts finds that the harshest portrayals of the provinces arise within "high" culture. Popular culture, however, has increasingly turned from the newly prosperous, multiethnic, and westernized Moscow to celebrate the hinterlands as repositories of national traditions and moral strength. This change, she argues, has directed debate about Russia's identity away from its loss of imperial might and global prestige and toward a hermetic national identity based on the opposition of "us vs. us" rather than "us vs. them." She offers an intriguing analysis of the contemporary debate over what it means to be Russian and where "true" Russians reside.
Russian & Former Soviet Union
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018