In this paper I discuss the question of “oneness” and “plurality” and their interactions in contemporary Russian literature and cinema in which Russian national identity is represented in various ways. At the outset of our discussion, I pay attention to the controversy between Solzhenitsyn and Siniavskii in the first half of the 1980’s. While Solzhenitsyn attacked his contemporary liberal Russian dissidents, including Siniavskii, as “pluralists”, the latter ironically criticized Solzhenitsyn as “the founder of new edinomyslie.” The contrast between the two positions can be understood as the conflict between oneness-oriented nationalism and pluralistic liberalism that would continue to be one of the most important undercurrents in contemporary Russian culture. With this controversy in mind as a prehistory, we will then discuss the following works: (1) Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together (2001–2002) (2) Nikita Mikhalkov’s Film 12 (2007) (3) Denis Gutsko’s novel Russkogovoriashchii (2005) and Eduard Bagirov’s novel Gastarbaiter (2007) Two Hundred Years Together is a historical study in two volume devoted to the complex relationship between Russians and Jews through the last two hundred years. 12 is a remake of Sidney Lumet’s famous 12 Angry Men (1957), but it is entirely adapted to the contemporary Russian situation in which the Russian, according the film director, should play the role of the strong protective father-in-law toward other minor nationalities. While the Russianness is not challenged in the above-mentioned two cases and both Solzhenitsyn and Mikhalkov seem to take their Russian national identity for granted, the younger writers, such as Gutsko and Bagirov have completely different starting points: their background and experience do not allow them to speak of Russia in terms of its “oneness.” Gutsko’s autobiographical hero is a Russian, but speaks Russian with a Georgian accent as he was born and raised in Tbilisi, and he experiences absurd difficulties in getting a new Russian passport after repatriating to his mother’s native town Rostov-na-Donu. Bagirov was born in Turkmenistan between an Azerbaijani father and a Russian mother, and his autobiographical hero comes to Moscow to try his fortune in this enormous city abundant with a lot of opportunities open to non-Russian newcomers as well as venomous prejudices and even hatred toward them on the side of Russian inhabitants. In the case of these new writers, we see that in the present “postmodern” situation the classical dichotomy between Russian/ non-Russian is being deconstructed and a search is beginning for a new Russian identity based on fluidity and plurality of identities.
As a cultural space, Bosnia was formed on the borders of Western and Eastern Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Religious diversity in the heartland of the Balkans did not cause serious conflict, but rather fostered coexistence, until the end of the Ottoman regime. However, the nationalism that emerged in surrounding areas during the nineteenth century penetrated Bosnia, where the question of national belongings became increasingly pressing in the twentieth century. The collapse of Yugoslavia under the slogan of the “brotherhood and unity” was followed by war; multiethnic Bosnia disintegrated into three ethnic components, those of the Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs, and two political entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republika Srpska. This paper deals with the representation of Bosnia in the literary works of native Bosnian writers; it focuses on the polysemic feature of “the border” and reveals that the diverse portrayal of Bosnia in these works reflects each writer’s experience and the more general social situation. In his short story, “Letter from the Year 1920,” Ivo Andrić presents Bosnia as “a land of hatred” and profiles its religious diversity as generating intercultural conflicts. The depiction of Bosnia as demarked by multiple cultural borders is characteristic of Andric’s compositions; this short story reveals a striking picture of such a Bosnia, one that echoes the writer’s experience in the two disastrous wars of the first half of the twentieth century. Hasan, a character in Meša Selimović’s novel The Dervish and Death, which was published in 1966, describes the Bosnian as an in-between, unfinished creature, deprived of any particular cultural identity. In this depiction, Hasan discloses the internal state of Selimović, an atheistic communist who values traditional Muslim culture. At the same time, the Bosnian depicted by Hasan reflects the condition of the Muslims of Yugoslavia until the end of 1960s, when they remained a vague ethnic group without any official nationality. Andrićʼs character Maks Levenfeld, who depicts Bosnia as a land of hatred, reappears in Dževad Karahasan’s “Letter from the Year 1993,” first published in 1996. In contrast to Andrićʼs Maks, Karahasan’s character describes Bosnia as a multicultural space in which people “jealously” maintain their cultural diversity. Bosnia here is conceptualized as a domain of intercultural communication, and the borders once featured by Andrić as dividing lines are profiled as interstitial spheres that create a society with internal cultural diversity. By reversing the picture represented in the letter of Andrićʼs Maks, Karahasan tries to recover his Bosnia, whose society is balanced by cultural diversity. The different presentations of Bosnia in three writers correspond to diverse conceptualizations of “the border”—Andrićʼs as dividing lines; Selimovićʼs as in-between places where people without clear identification dwell; and Karahasanʼs as interstitial spaces that can generate intercultural relationships. Each also reflects a different phase in the history of Bosnia, from the time immediately after World War II, through the Yugoslav regime, to the collapse of the multinational state.
This paper investigates “Chinese diaspora,” the term used by the Russian media and in Russian scholarly articles to describe the Chinese residing and working in Russia either permanently or temporarily. Although Russia’s perceived threat of Chinese migration to Russia has calmed as compared to the 1990s, Russian citizens are still intolerant of Chinese inclusion into Russian society and the apparent unwillingness of the Chinese to adapt. Hostility against the Chinese can be avoided by understanding their activity in Russia, as well as the roots of Russian society’s stereotyping of the Chinese. This paper focuses on the term Chinese diaspora because it has not previously been theoretically considered. In addition, whether this Chinese presence in Russia qualifies as actual diaspora has not been thoroughly examined, despite its wide use to describe the Chinese currently residing and working in Russia. The aim of this paper is to examine how the term Chinese diaspora as a metaphor operates in Russian society, as well as how the boundary between Russian citizens and the Chinese has been maintained not by diasporic motivation, but by Russian motivation to perpetuate it. This paper first examines how the term Chinese diaspora is used by the Russian media and in Russian scholarly articles, and then describes how this usage differs from the definition of diaspora in the theoretical sense and from how the Oversea Chinese worldwide define themselves as diaspora. This paper also examines the diasporic ties between Chinese migrants and their home countries and diasporic practices from a historical perspective. Chinese diaspora should be analyzed by the diasporic stances, projects, claims, idioms, practices, and so on, that are motivated from the diaspora side, even if they passively accept or adapt their diasporic stances. This analysis finds that there is no diasporic cohesion between new and old Chinese immigrants to Russia in term of their origins, and no consistent and well-organized diasporic practice. This paper’s investigation makes it clear that the Chinese diaspora in Russia does not presently exist from the perspective of diasporic theory and social practices. The term Chinese diaspora is a metaphor designed by Russia to maintain the boundary between Russian society and Chinese migrants. The grouping of Russia’s Chinese population into this putative diaspora keeps them arbitrarily bounded by the host society. With this grouping, biased views against Chinese immigrants remains as a device to instigate new threats against them or inflate existing threats, even if those who speak about the Chinese immigrants welcome them or not. The term Chinese diaspora in the Russian context should be used carefully. Its use hinders the Chinese by stereotyping them as a putative diaspora, provoking an inexplicable disquiet among the host citizens that keeps them intolerant of Chinese immigrants.
This paper attempts to clarify the political behavior of non-governmental and non-profit organisations in modern Russia based on a questionnaire-type survey carried out from December 2003 to March 2004 in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The survey was designed by Prof. Yutaka TSUJINAKA (University of Tsukuba), Prof. Itsuro NAKAMURA (University of Tsukuba), and Prof. William Smirnov (Institute of State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences) with an aim to analyze the relationship between non-profit organisations and political actors: the central and local governments, political parties, politicians, the mass media, and others. The questionnaire is called the “Japan Interest Group Survey” (JIGS), because it was initially designed to determine the situation with interest groups in Japan. Since then, it has been developed into a global research project, conducted in 15 countries. Russia is among these countries in a similar survey form. In this paper, I examine the political behavior of Russian organisations using JIGS data. Many scholars have analyzed Russian civil society from multiple angles after the collapse of the USSR, based on the assumption that civil society would develop smoothly under a new political system. However, NPOs and NGOs did not grow as expected, because “marionette organisations” controlled by the government dominated Russian civil society. These organisations receive grants from the government directly or indirectly, and in many cases they are managed by retired government officials. Also, these organisations invariably support the government and often participate in government-sponsored conferences as “civil society representatives.” Researchers have claimed that such organisations do not contribute to the development of the civil society, whereas organisations opposed to the government depend largely on donations from abroad. Furthermore, scholars have demonstrated that the Russian people rarely trust outside organisations and systems, but tend to trust personal networks with relatives, friends, and acquaintances. This is seen as one of the reasons why the Russian people tend not to participate in NPO activities. As a result, it is the accepted view that Russian civil society is weak owing to weak NPOs and NGOs. While I recognize that Russian civil society is quite different from civil society in the developed Western countries, it is still important to analyze the actual situation of NPOs in Russia, where there were 85,185 “non-profit organisations” and 108,736 “public associations” in 2012. It is safe to assume that these organisations have some influence on Russian politics, and the question of their lobbying behavior remains open. Thus, I consider here the subjective influence of these organisations on problem-solving, the proposal or altering of policies, the frequency of their contact with administrations and political parties, political activities during elections, and lobbying methods. It is beyond the scope of this paper to address all the questions and responses to the questionnaire-survey, but I attempt to discuss the organisations’ political actions based on the above six points. In conclusion, I found that Russian organisations are very confident in problem-solving in their working areas and that they succeeded in proposing or altering policies more often compared to similar organisations in other countries. They have frequent contact with administrations, especially locally, and they often engage in exchanges of opinion. On the other hand, the organisations do not have close contact with political parties and do not participate in political campaigns during elections. Also, the organisations prefer the outside lobbying method (through mass media, demonstrations, etc.) to inside lobbying (through the politicians, political parties, administrations, etc.).
Slovenia is the richest country in Central and Eastern Europe. The country joined the European Union in May 2004. Having satisfied the Maastricht criteria earlier than any other new EU member states, the country joined the Euro-zone in January 2007 and then served as the EU Presidency successfully in the first half of 2008. In that sense, Slovenia was the best performer among the post-socialist countries. During the period 2005–2008 the country accomplished a high economic growth. Since the capital market in this country had only a short history, companies depended mainly on debt financing. Many banks were competing with each other for market share. Slovenian banks borrowed a huge amount of funds on international wholesale financial markets and provided companies with cheap loans. In addition to core business activities, companies actively invested in non-core business activities, creating a real estate boom. Due to the Lehman shock, international financial markets suddenly became tight. Slovenian banks became unable to borrow funds from the wholesale markets. Domestic banks, in turn, were obliged to decrease credits to companies and households. Moreover, in the early 2009 external demands, especially demands on the EU markets decreased remarkably, and correspondingly exports decreased. Consequently, the domestic productions decreased. The GDP growth rate recorded –7.8 percent in 2009. Thanks to some increase in exports to the Euro-zone, the economy picked up only in the second quarter of 2010. In 2011, however, affected by the credit uncertainty in the Euro-zone, the Slovenian economy fell into a double-dip depression and further a serious crisis. Many companies went bankrupt, and the banking sector came to have a huge amount of non-performing loans. The type of the Slovenian crisis is different from that of Greece or Cyprus. First, Slovenia had a relatively sound budget until 2008. The country has not aimed to be a tourism country like Greece and Cyprus. Instead, the country had competitive manufacturing industries and her trade and current account deficits were small until recently. Second, the second wave of privatization started in 2006 mainly based on the MBO method, and Slovenian banks financed the MBO. Unfortunately, this move coincided with the Lehman shock. Third, the proportion of foreign-owned banks in the banking sector was small. Domestic capitals account for about 60 percent of the banking sector, but the state has control over major banks. In other Central and East European countries foreign-owned banks have been predominant, and therefore their parent banks have managed to support subsidiaries. In the case of Slovenia, in contrast, the government had to inject capitals to the banks repeatedly to protect the banking system, having negative influence on the state budget. In 2013 the credit uncertainty over Cyprus gave rise to concerns about Slovenia. Outside specialists think that there is no way other than asking the Troika (the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF) for help, but the government is struggling hard to overcome the crisis by itself without relying on rescue by the Troika. This paper examines why this country fell into such a serious economic crisis.
It is well known that the style of Andrei Platonov (1899–1951) underwent a notable change during the first half of the 1930s. This article aims to concretely analyze how his writing evolved during this period by comparing two of his novellas: Efirnyi trakt, written in 1927, and Dzhan, written in 1935. These works were written, respectively, before and after Platonov altered his style. However, there is another reason to compare these two works in particular. These novellas have entirely different themes; however, they contain similar elements in their plots. Therefore, they are relatively easy to compare in order to show how the author’s style underwent a transformation. Efirnyi trakt is about physicists who explore a way to increase or decrease materials at will. In contrast, Dzhan is about a youth who is sent from Moscow to rescue an ethnic group that is facing almost certain destruction in the Sary-Kamysh basin in Central Asia. Despite the apparent differences between these two works, each has a protagonist with a high level of education, and who, while eager to accomplish his mission, suffers a setback. A closer look at these works makes it clear that the position of the protagonist in relation to the natural environment undergoes a critical change. In other words, the relationship is turned upside down. In Efirnyi Trakt, the physicists are active agents dealing with the natural environment, and they exploit it for their own gains. In Dzhan, the young man is vulnerable to predation by eagles, and is therefore relatively passive to nature. In Europe after World War I, Platonov was not unique in characterizing the man by putting emphasis on his passiveness. However, Platonov was original in expressing the passivity of man with respect to the natural environment, not only through the expression of feelings and reflections of the protagonists but also by inverting the relationship between his protagonists and the natural environment. A comparison of these two novellas makes this clear. It is well known that since the mid 1930s, Platonov attempted to write works that faithfully accorded with the principles of socialist realism. Yet, despite his efforts, as seen in Dzhan, his own literary cosmos kept evolving.