Event Details

On 20 February at 4.30pm, will take place the conference From Russia with (collectivist) love: self-governing marketlessness in an illiberal modern social.

The guest speaker is Xenia Cherkaev, visiting professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Bio: Xenia Cherkaev is interested in the possibility of a collectivist modern life. She holds a PhD from Columbia University and is currently a visiting scholar at the Humboldt University of Berlin. She writes about non-market modernity, present-day Russia, Soviet socialist property law, and the problem of Russia’s legally “ownerless” dogs. Her book Gleaning for Communism: The Soviet Socialist Household in Theory and Practice came out in 2023 with Cornell University Press https://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/9781501770302/gleaning-for-communism/

About the conference: Flipping the feminist maxim that “the private is political,” the Russian state insists that politics be kept private: that politics is contentious and morally dubious, something from which society and children must be protected. Yet many opportunities exist for people to participate in the governance of their communities. People petition to change certain governance practices, form NGOs that compete for funding in a system of state grants, work together to keep their communities operational despite the state’s unreasonable rules, regulations, and laws. Drawing on long-term fieldwork in NW Russia, I analyze how such practices keep society functional and at the same time foreclose open resistance to state law and policy. I see in such civic collectivism an explicitly illiberal logic, echoed in prior Russian and Soviet governance: that of “socialist democracy” in a one-party state, a self-avowedly illiberal project framed not in terms of private rights and political freedoms but as personal ethical participation in a striving collectivist social.