“Я Сама, Фотка Себя: The Selfie as Domestic Politics and Practice in Russia”
In July of 2015, the Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation issued a “Guide to Selfie Safety” in response to the trend of posing with guns or on top of buildings and bridges resulted in a series of deaths, mostly of teens. It immediately went viral. Like the images that were circulated showing Russia’s inability to prepare for Sochi (see two toilets, one stall), the “Guide to Selfie Safety” seemed to be another publicized example of the boondogglery the West expected, if not welcomed, from Russia. Superficially, the “Guide to Safe Selfies” and by extension Russian selfies seem like a poor, failed imitation of those of the West, attracting digital attention as something worthy of a Darwin award, or as a more extreme, tasteless version of its American counterpart. In reality, the Russian selfie, its expressive capacities, and its conditions of creation carry a multiplicity of meaning at the mirror stage of post-Soviet development. This paper argues that Russian selfies are not just mimetic or meme-able material; rather they illustrate a broader phenomenon of Russian cyber-separatism as a demonstration of spectacular refusal and rejection of digital universalism. Critically, they allow Russia to turn the camera away from the West and capture the country’s post-soviet self, distinct in the context of the transnational, digital world, as particular forms of Putin-influenced culture and heteronormativity proliferate. Using visual cues saturated in symbolism that has remained insoluble through the Russian revolution and Soviet period, RuNet users are creating a digital enclave as distinct and emergent as post-Soviet identity, and one that embodies the Putin present.
Author: Zosha Winegar-Schultz, PhD Student in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature (University of Minnesota)
Discussant: Kaitlyn Tucker, PhD Candidate in History (UChicago)
February 23, 2018
12:00pm-1:20pm in Foster Hall, Room 103
University of Chicago
Light refreshments will be served. You are welcome to bring your lunch.
THERE WILL BE NO PAPER TO READ IN ADVANCE OF THIS SESSION.
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REECA workshop is an interdisciplinary scholarly forum where graduate students and faculty can explore different perspectives on area studies as they pertain to these deeply interconnected regions of the world. We invite topics of discussion from a wide range of disciplines, including but not limited to Slavic studies, political science, social thought, history, intellectual history, comparative literature, cinema studies, sociology, philosophy, divinity studies, economics, anthropology, public policy, comparative human development, and legal studies.