Cold Wars and Racial Performances

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor, IRES Library
  • Website
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES)
  • Contact person: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
  • Föreläsning

Both racialization itself and discourses about racism have torqued vectors of geopolitical competition. During the Cold War, such discourses even buttressed efforts to claim domestic freedom while accusing the enemy of forced thought and labor. This presentation unsettles such claims by contrasting Cold War performances of racisms and discourses about racism, as they relate to the materials and institutions that produce varied experiences of race.

Alaina Lemon is Professor in Anthropology and Director of the Interdepartmental Program in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan. She is a socio-cultural and linguistic anthropologist who works in Russia and the Former Soviet Union. Prof. Lemon is interested in how debates about aesthetic techniques and communicative forms relate to struggles over political change or social hierarchies. She has conducted ethnographic research in directing schools, in theaters and backstage, on film sets, with journalists and press analysts, in the Moscow Metro, and, of course, sitting with people in kitchens and in front of television sets. She also sifts through archives and internet, broadcast, and print media texts. Prof. Lemon has written a book about ways Roma in Russia are racialized through performance--even as they also produce social value through meta-communication around performance encounters. She has published articles that connect racial discourses (with emphasis on non-referential ways to index race) in post-Soviet Russia to Cold War narratives, to counterfeit currency, to public transit, and to institutionalized forms of performance. Recent publications address the training of cultural producers in Russia, critically exploring categories of practice such as "Verbal Terror," "Empathy," and "Hybrid Chronotopes." Forthcoming work includes a study of ways people address both anxieties about mental influence as well as utopian hopes for a world of mental communion by linking theatrical practice with the spectacular techniques of paranormal science.

The seminar is organized in cooperation with the Uppsala Forum on Democracy, Peace and Justice.