Monthly Archives: June 2018

Latest publications

Russian Media Lab proudly announces the publication this week of two articles by its researchers. Interested? Follow the links to read the publications in open access!

Mariëlle Wijermars’ article “Project ‘1917 –Free History’: Reliving the Russian Revolution in the Digital Age“, published in Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media, examines Project ‘1917 – Free History,’ an innovative and ambitious online initiative that enables its followers to relive the Russian Revolution in real time. Presenting archival materials in the format of a Facebook feed, the project allows one to experience what “really” happened. Whereas in the state-controlled mass media discourse, the representation of the revolutionary year and the lessons it harbours for today’s Russia tend towards unambiguity, emphasising the destructive nature of radical political change, Project 1917 presents a wide array of voices without imposing a single interpretation. The article analyses how the project mediates the public remembrance of the Revolution, and what role the social media feed format and the interactivity it promotes can play in societal processes of coming to terms with the revolution’s traumatic legacy. It demonstrates how, over the course of one year, Project 1917 became increasingly entangled in current political debates as 2017 turned out to be a year of mass protests.

Wijermars, Mariëlle. 2018. Project ‘1917 – Free History’: Reliving the Russian Revolution in the Digital Age. Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media No. 18: 45-65.

Saara Ratilainen’s article ‘Digital media and cultural institutions in Russia: online magazines as aggregates of cultural services‘ article, published in Cultural Studies, sheds light on Russian cultural institutions from the perspective of digital media, focusing on online magazines. The analysis concentrates on urban lifestyle magazines, a sub-category of consumer magazines and a media genre, which emerged in Russia in the glossy magazine format and is now experiencing a powerful ‘second rising’ on the internet. The article asks how the adaptation to the digital communication environment by lifestyle publications re-defines the very concept of a magazine and reorganizes the institutional ties between media and cultural industries. This focus enables me to analyse lifestyle magazines as a dynamic field of interaction in which cultural meanings are produced and negotiated. Based on new media studies, the article sees the cultural transcoding (Manovich 2002) of the networked and automatized information transmission into the magazines’ content as being a significant factor in the development of contemporary culture and media. Ultimately, the article introduces an attempt to analyse new media titles combining qualitative media analysis with the developing theory of ‘algorithmic culture’ (Striphas 2015). The argumentation is based on two case publications: Afisha, established in 1999 as a weekly glossy magazine introducing all cultural events in Moscow, and Inde, a digital-born regional lifestyle magazine focusing on urban culture in the Republic of Tatarstan. Urban lifestyle magazines are important for the institutional organization of Russian culture, as they direct their readers’ attention to a broad selection of arts, products and events; strengthen the link between consumers and cultural entrepreneurs and build on a long tradition of print journalism, thereby transmitting the values of reading and literacy to a popular public. Moreover, the analysis shows that, through their multi-platform publication strategy, online magazines (re)organize as aggregates of digital resources helping to manage cultural decision-making in a consumerist setting.

Ratilainen, Saara 2018. Digital media and cultural institutions in Russia: online magazines as aggregates of cultural services. Cultural Studies 32:5, 800-824, DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2018.1429003.

Public lecture Hanna Stähle: ‘Mediated Orthodoxy’

Mediated Orthodoxy: The Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Kirill Facing Criticism in Digital Media

Public lecture by Russian MediaLab visiting researcher Hanna Stähle (University of Passau)

When: Monday 18 June, 14:15 – 15:45

Where: Aleksanteri Institute, 2nd floor meeting room

There is an increasing discrepancy between the image of the Russian Orthodox Church in state-controlled broadcast media, on the one hand, and in non-mainstream online media, on the other. The idealized, nation-centered, and triumphalist image of the Church in traditional Russian media is contrasted with an outlandish, ridiculous, and grotesque image of Russian Orthodoxy in digitally mediated settings. Following the notorious Pussy Riot punk prayer service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2012, as well as a number of media scandals involving Orthodox hierarchs and personally Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Church found itself at conflict with parts of Russian society.

Digital media provide evidence of rising disdain and contempt toward Orthodox authorities and the institutional Church. These phenomena are often related to anticlericalism, atheism, or anti-Church ressentiments. This talk complicates this perception and demonstrates that Church criticism is voiced not only by “militant atheists” and “aggressive secularists” but also by practicing Orthodox believers and clergy. It demonstrates how media, both mainstream and alternative ones, significantly shape and influence contemporary Russian Orthodoxy and the way it is imagined and perceived in public. Alongside political, traditional, and vernacular Orthodoxy, there emerges yet another distinct form of Orthodox religion: mediated Orthodoxy that cannot be reduced to the official Orthodox Church or to popular religious observance and deserves a serious level of understanding.

Hanna Stähle is a PhD Candidate in Slavic Cultural Studies at the University of Passau, who has recently submitted her dissertation, and former Research Fellow at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow. Her research examines the digitally mediated image of the Russian Orthodox Church in post-Soviet Russia from the perspective of Church critics, and has been published in Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media and by the Carnegie Moscow Center. She previously worked at the Robert Bosch Stiftung. She obtained her Master’s degree in Russian and East Central European Studies from the University of Passau in 2011. In 2008, she graduated from Minsk State Linguistic University with a degree in German language and literature. Her Ph.D. thesis, which she recently submitted, examines digitally mediated discourse dynamics and user interactions related to religious issues in post-Soviet Russia.