Society and Culture

Soviet-Jewish Refugees and Their Political Preferences in the United States and Israel

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, one million Soviet Jewish refugees went to Israel and half a million went to the United States. Thirty years later, what can we say about this group’s political preferences? To what extent are their political attitudes shaped by their Soviet past and to what extent by local political culture? Are there issues unique to this set of voters? Ze’ev Khanin, a leading expert on the Russian Jewish community in Israel and the diaspora, will address these questions.

Russia: A Church-Building Nation Whose Traditionalism Is a Myth


Russians are told constantly that their country stands as a bulwark against the West’s moral corruption. In fact, if there is anything resembling official ideology promoted by the Kremlin, it would be the Russians’ professed ability to hold on to the traditions of their forefathers.

Who Is Mr. Ivanov: Why Russia’s Middle Class Today Is Different


In the five years since 2014, the share of those in Russia who consider themselves middle class has shrunk from 60 percent to 47 percent. This is according to a study commissioned by the investment arm of Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, on the “Ivanov index,” a measure of consumer confidence. “Ivanov,” a common Russian last name, is used to represent a typical middle-class person in Russia.

Book Talk: Zuleikha

First published in Russia in 2015, Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes tells a story of survival and renewal during the 1930s Soviet policy of dekulakization and exile, taking the title character on the harrowing journey from a Tatar village to East Siberia. To mark the publication of the English translation of her critically acclaimed novel, award-winning Russian author of Tatar origin Guzel Yakhina will discuss the family history she drew inspiration from as well as Russia’s tragic past that provides context for her book.

Spaces of (Post-) Soviet Dissent in Russia

James H. Billington Seminar on Russian History and Culture

Recent mass protest rallies in Russia are often analyzed in terms of their economic and political ramifications. This panel will instead consider the historical context of protest activism in contemporary Russia. Participants will examine how different contemporary political activists and artists perpetuate, deconstruct, or subvert both the official line as well as dissent traditions in contesting state monopoly over the public space.

R.I.P “Soviet Man”: Scrapping Homo Sovieticus in the Spirit of Yuri Levada


“Soviet man is a servile double-thinker with no morality.” “Soviet man is being reproduced in modern-day Russia.” These two messages have occupied a prime position in the Levada Center’s communications over the past two decades or so.

Stalin as Superman and the Dangers of Polling in an Autocracy


Stalin played a positive role in Russia’s history; he was a respected historical figure, a majority of Russians polled by the independent polling organization Levada Center said earlier this week. Both approval of Stalin’s historical role (70 percent thought it was positive) and respect for him (51 percent expressed “respect,” “admiration,” or “sympathy” for the Soviet dictator) were the strongest since the early 2000s.

The Absent Hand: Reimagining Our American Landscape

This engrossing work of literary nonfiction is a deep dive into our surroundings―cities, countryside, and sprawl―exploring change in the meaning of place, and reimagining our American landscape