Consider this page an extension of the “Author” section. I realized that aside from that page I hadn’t actually introduced myself proper – who I am, how I became an RAS-junkie and what I plan to do with this blog. Better late than never, eh?
Who am I?
I’m a real person writing under a pseudonym. I’m relatively young when compared to the other writers who populate the Russia-centric blogosphere. By day, I study at the keyed virus unit. By night (and sometimes by afternoon), I write this blog. English is my native language, though Russian is fast becoming my favorite one to use. My pastimes include reading, drawing/sequential art, hovering uneasily on the edge of photos, and of course, discussing Russian affairs. Specifically, my curiosity lies in
- state-society relations,
- Russian internal politics and foreign policy,
- US-Russian relations,
- evolution and trends of modern American rusology,
- soft power,
- national identity, patriotism and statebuilding,
and Putin, I guessthe influence of personality upon politics.
tl;dr, basically, a few years ago I became interested in the language after hearing a song by Zemfira on Soundcloud. True story. One thing led to another and soon I was not only studying Russian but reading extensively on contemporary Russian culture and politics. The classic literature/Tsarist Russia/”truly Russophilic” stage of development was noticeably absent. The Syrian crisis of 2013 and the following events opened my eyes to what seemed to be a decline in American expertise on (and understanding of) Russian affairs; a void which younger, more naive me was more than happy to work to fill.
In a nutshell, my interest in Russia stems partly from practical application, partly from curiosity, and partly from genuine desire to understand modern Russia. The Russia Bug bit me, but it belonged to a slightly different species: one with a pleasant chirp, but also sharp teeth, and the eyes of Vladimir Putin.
Well, what am I going to do with it?
Years ago, I dreamed of becoming an analyst, doing research and making policy suggestions based upon a more nuanced, less antagonistic notion of Russia. But that was before I became aware of the structural problems and ideological tilt underlying American discourse on Russia – forces that would make earning that coveted analyst position an uphill struggle. While deep down I still long to be an analyst (and perhaps I can still make it if I fight hard), I’m also considering translation work. There’s so much untapped knowledge in the form of Russian-language documents and books, and I want to help make that information available to the academic community (or other interested persons) through translation.
Why did I start blogging?
First of all, it’s because I LOVE books. And book reviews. In fact, that’s what I was doing before I decided to launch this blog. Books are love, books are life, and shame on you if you don’t agree. 🙂 Starting out, my reviews were mostly apolitical and about random genres; but at some point I realized I could fuse two of my interests together and devote an entire site to the result.
Second of all, it’s because a blog is just about the only platform I have on which to talk about Russia. What can I say – Russia-watching’s not a popular hobby in these parts. And when the topic of Russia is brought up, it tends to attract a narrow group of often narrow-minded commentators who go by the collective name of Democracy Promoters.
Let me be frank: I don’t expect Russia Reviewed to have any impact on academic/policy debate or win over the hearts and minds of hundreds with its message of “yeah, Russia’s not as bad as our current establishment claims it is.” However, I do personally benefit a great deal from having a forum through which I can better synthesize my own ideas about Russia and listen to the responses of others. I’m in no way a Russia expert, and I find something interesting to ponder in every substantive comment.
Hope that clears a few things up.