The reading list expands?

Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia by Lisa Dickey

Lisa Dickey traveled across the whole of Russia three times―in 1995, 2005 and 2015―making friends in eleven different cities, then coming back again and again to see how their lives had changed. Like the acclaimed British documentary series Seven Up!, she traces the ups and downs of ordinary people’s lives, in the process painting a deeply nuanced portrait of modern Russia.

From the caretakers of a lighthouse in Vladivostok, to the Jewish community of Birobidzhan, to a farmer in Buryatia, to a group of gay friends in Novosibirsk, to a wealthy “New Russian” family in Chelyabinsk, to a rap star in Moscow, Dickey profiles a wide cross-section of people in one of the most fascinating, dynamic and important countries on Earth. Along the way, she explores dramatic changes in everything from technology to social norms, drinks copious amounts of vodka, and learns firsthand how the Russians really feel about Vladimir Putin.

Including powerful photographs of people and places over time, and filled with wacky travel stories, unexpected twists, and keen insights, Bears in the Streets offers an unprecedented on-the-ground view of Russia today.

J.T.: Lost and Found in Russia 2.0?

Holy Rus’: The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia by John P. Burgess

A bold experiment is taking place in Russia. After a century of being scarred by militant, atheistic communism, the Orthodox Church has become Russia’s largest and most significant nongovernmental organization. As it has returned to life, it has pursued a vision of reclaiming Holy Rus’: that historical yet mythical homeland of the eastern Slavic peoples; a foretaste of the perfect justice, peace, harmony, and beauty for which religious believers long; and the glimpse of heaven on earth that persuaded Prince Vladimir to accept Orthodox baptism in Crimea in A.D. 988.

Through groundbreaking initiatives in religious education, social ministry, historical commemoration, and parish life, the Orthodox Church is seeking to shape a new, post-communist national identity for Russia. In this eye-opening and evocative book, John Burgess examines Russian Orthodoxy’s resurgence from a grassroots level, providing Western readers with an enlightening, inside look at the new Russia.

Should We Fear Russia? (Global Futures) by Dmitri Trenin

Since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, there has been much talk of a new Cold War between the West and Russia.  Under Putin’s authoritarian leadership, Moscow is widely seen as volatile, belligerent and bent on using military force to get its way.

In this incisive analysis, top Russian foreign and security policy analyst Dmitri Trenin explains why the Cold War analogy is misleading.  Relations between the West and Russia are certainly bad and dangerous but – he argues – they are bad and dangerous in new ways; crucial differences which make the current rivalry between Russia, the EU and the US all the more fluid and unpredictable.  Unpacking the dynamics of this increasingly strained relationship, Trenin makes a compelling case for handling Russia with pragmatism and care rather than simply giving into fear.

The Crimean Nexus: Putin’s War and the Clash of Civilizations by Constantine Pleshakov

A native of Yalta, Constantine Pleshakov is intimately familiar with Crimea’s ethnic tensions and complex political history. Now, he offers a much-needed look at one of the most urgent flash points in current international relations: the first occupation and annexation of one European nation’s territory by another since World War II.

Pleshakov illustrates how the proxy war unfolding in Ukraine is a clash of incompatible world views. To the U.S. and Europe, Ukraine is a country struggling for self-determination in the face of Russia’s imperial nostalgia. To Russia, Ukraine is a “sister nation,” where NATO expansionism threatens its own borders. In Crimea itself, the native Tatars are Muslims who are vehemently opposed to Russian rule. Engagingly written and bracingly nonpartisan, Pleshakov’s book explains the missteps made on all sides to provide a clear, even-handed account of a major international crisis.

Western Mainstream Media and the Ukraine Crisis: A Study in Conflict Propaganda (Media, War and Security) by Oliver Boyd-Barett

This book explores contemporary propaganda and mainstream Western news media, with reference to the Ukraine crisis.

It examines Western media narratives of the immediate causes of the crisis, the respective roles of those who participated in or otherwise supported the demonstrations of 2013–2014 – including US-backed NGOs and rightist militia – and the legitimacy, or otherwise, of the destabilization of the democratically elected Yanukovych government. It considers how the crisis was contextualized with reference to broader themes of competition for power over Eurasia and the Washington Consensus. It assesses accounts of the role of Russia and of ethnic Russian Ukrainians in Crimea, Odessa and the Donbass and traces how Western mainstream media went out of their way to demonize Vladimir Putin. The book deconstructs prevailing Western narratives as to the reasons for the shooting down of Malaysian Airways flight MH17 in July 2014, and counters Western media concentration on the issue of culpability for the attack with an alternative narrative of egregious failure to close down civilian air space over war zones. From analysis of these discourses, the book identifies principles of post-2001 Western conflict propaganda as these appeared to play out in Ukraine.

This book will be of much interest to students of propaganda, media and communication studies, Russian and Eastern European politics, security studies and IR.

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2 comments

  1. “To the U.S. and Europe, Ukraine is a country struggling for self-determination in the face of Russia’s imperial nostalgia”

    “native Tatars are Muslims who are vehemently opposed to Russian rule”

    “nonpartisan”

    I don’t think so.

    Liked by 1 person

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