Society and Culture

Programa Bolsa Família

Learning to Become Turkmen: Literacy, Language, and Power, 1914-2014

Learning to Become Turkmen examines the ways in which the iconography of everyday life--in dramatically different alphabets, multiple languages, and shifting education policies--reflects the evolution of Turkmen society in Central Asia over the past century. As Victoria Clement shows, the formal structures of the Russian imperial state did not affect Turkmen cultural formations nearly as much as Rusian language and Cyrillic script. Their departure was also as transformative to Turkmen politics and society as their arrival.

Asserting Taiwan’s International Space: The Challenges Ahead for Taipei’s Leadership

Taiwan’s unique status in the world has come under greater pressure in recent months as China steps up efforts to challenge Taipei’s global standing. Taiwan remains a leading Asian economy and a vibrant democracy. Yet strained cross-Strait relations have made it increasingly difficult for Taipei to ensure its standing in the international arena. Join us for a discussion on the political, security, and social challenges ahead for Taiwan, and how Taiwan may be able to overcome some of its vulnerabilities to ensure a stable and prosperous future.

Ballet Empire: Silver Age St. Petersburg and the Legacy of the Ballets Russes

James H. Billington Seminar on Russian History and Culture

Russia’s Strange Obsession with Sobibór

A new Russian movie, Sobibór, is making its way into Russian theaters and European capitals. The big-budget, highly promoted film tells the story of a prisoner escape from the Nazi death camp Sobibór in October 1943. The escape, a uniquely successful event of the Holocaust, was organized by Alexander Pechersky, a Jewish Red Army officer and a prisoner in the camp.

Russia’s War on Telegram and What It Tells Us about Russian Politics

Almost three weeks have passed since a Moscow court ruled that Telegram—an encrypted messaging app created by Pavel Durov, of VKontakte fame—must be banned in Russia for failing to cooperate with the Federal Security Service, or FSB (so-called “information distributors” are legally required to make user data available to the authorities, according to a 2014 law).