Society and Culture News

Russia’s Way of Managing Responsibility or Why the Kremlin Will Have To Escalate in Syria

Nov 09, 2015
The cause of the most terrible plane crash in Russian history has not yet been named. Officially, there is still a possibility that the crash of the Russian passenger plane that went down on the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on October 31st was due to a technical failure, not an act of terror. But still, there is a responsibility to be assumed: either for aircraft maintenance or for Russia’s role in the Syrian war. The two types of responsibility are vastly different, but they both involve holding state officials accountable for protecting citizens’ safety.

From Collards to Kale: Redefining Washington’s West End

Oct 22, 2015
Washington, D.C. has lived through almost seven decades of gentrification, beginning with Georgetown in the 1940s and continuing until today when it is reaching Brookland and beyond. Much has been gained. Washington has become a safer, more interesting, and more vibrant city. However, as the story of the West End reveals, much has been lost.

Russian Opinion Polls Come Full Circle

Oct 19, 2015
"The public’s attitudes, concerns and aspirations are seen by the Kremlin as a security matter. They are important not in themselves, but in the way they contribute to regime stability or instability," writes Maxim Trudolyubov.

Are Think Tanks Too Partisan?

Oct 07, 2015
"A real “safe political space” has to be safe for controversial ideas; it has to welcome perspectives that disrupt, threaten or unsettle." writes Jane Harman

The Pope in Cuba: What Does it Mean?

Sep 21, 2015
"The worldwide popularity of Pope Francis and the oft expressed media speculation that he might use his visit to pressure the Cuban government to initiate major changes misconstrues the role of the Cuban church, as well as the purposes of the papal visits which were and are primarily pastoral aimed at fortifying the evangelizing capacity of the Cuban church," writes Margaret Crahan on the papal visit to Cuba.

“A Sacred Space Is Never Empty”

Sep 14, 2015
In continuation of our alumni interview series, we talked with Title VIII-supported Research Scholar Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock to hear her reflections on her fellowship. Dr. Smolkin-Rothrock, Assistant Professor of Russian History at Wesleyan University, is writing a book about the confrontation between scientific atheism and lived religion in the Soviet Union. See the discussion below on religious policy and atheism throughout Soviet history.

From Chechnya to Ukraine: Biopolitical Patriotism in Times of War

Sep 09, 2015
The following analysis uses Russian cinematographic narratives to help us understand the concept of biopolitical patriotism. More specifically, several Russian film representations of the two wars in Chechnya touch upon the idea of post-Soviet patriotism. This patriotism can be dubbed biopolitical, in the sense that the state, being neither its engine nor its key reference point, could take advantage of this patriotism’s ability to mobilize a population and could selectively use it for political purposes.

Everyday Law Enforcement in Russia

Sep 08, 2015
An Interview with Lauren McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, upon the completion of her Title VIII Research Scholarship. Dr. McCarthy discusses her Kennan Institute project, which explored how and when Russian law enforcement agencies implemented laws on human trafficking in Russia from 2004-2013. Check out this interview for a sneak peak of Dr. McCarthy’s forthcoming book

Will ISIS Infect Bangladesh?

Aug 04, 2015
"Thanks to increased counterterrorism efforts spearheaded by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, IS has few allies that can help it tap into Bangladesh’s large Muslim population. Pro-IS sentiment, simply put, is very weak in Bangladesh," write Atif Jalal Ahmad and Michael Kugelman.

Iran’s President Rouhani: Assessing His First Two Years in Office

Jul 31, 2015
Two years into a term that promised to change the tone and substance of Iran’s politics and relationships around the world, a panel of experts gathered to assess President Rouhani’s performance beyond the nuclear deal. That’s the focus of this edition of REWIND.