EAST Public – Spring 2018



Building amidst solitude

Netherlands 2017 | 56.00 min. | black/white | 1:1.66 | 5.1 | Dialogue in Dutch with English subtitles

February 21, 2018, VOZ Zaal, Kloveniersburgwal 48

In cooperation with the International Institute for Social History 


Guided by political conviction and social consciousness architect Han van Loghem travelled to Siberia in the mid 1920s. The Soviet Union was in need of specialists to help design and construct entirely new cities in the Urals and Siberia, which were to become important mining and metallurgical centers. Filled with ideals and desire for adventures modern architects from West Europa left for the future workers’ paradise.

‘Building amidst solitude’ reveals how for van Loghem the journey to Siberia was also a quest for personal and professional fulfillment, which in the Netherlands he felt he lacked. Van Loghem’s personal quest had its repercussions on his marriage and his wife Berthe Neumeijer, who initially planned to stay in the Netherlands, followed him to Siberia in an attempt to save their marriage.

‘Building amidst solitude’ is a film by Pim Zwier, made in collaboration with the International Institute of Social History.

Pim Zwier and collaborator Gijs Kessler will provide a short introduction to the film, while the UvA’s Dr. Sudha Rajagopalan will offer a short commentary before opening the floor to Q&A.

Bouwen te midden van eenzaamheid 04

Gijs Kessler (1969) is a senior research fellow at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, and a specialist in the social and economic history of Russia and the Soviet Union. He obtained his MA degree from the Free University in Amsterdam (1994) and his PhD from the European University Institute in Florence (2001). From 2002 to 2016 he lived and worked in Moscow, where he carried out and co-ordinated research projects for the International Institute of Social History and taught economic and social history at the New Economic School. Together with exhibition maker Jeroen de Vries he created the exhibition “Together and Apart. The Family in Russia in the Twentieth Century”, which in 2012-2015 was on show in Assen, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vladivostok.

Pim Zwier (1970) is a filmmaker/media-artist and obtained his MFA from the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam in 2003. He makes documentary films, shorts and video-installations. His films and video-installations cross the lines between media-art, experimanetal film and video-art, and were screened at national and international film-festivals, exhibitions and television. Next to his work as a film-maker and a media-artist he has compiled film programmes for amongst others the Filmbank/EYE, as well as various international film festivals, and is a member of the jury for several international film festivals.

Dr. Sudha Rajagopalan is Assistant Professor in East European Studies, and also teaches in the Media Studies  and History departments at UvA. Her current work addresses the broad question of what constitutes the ordinary and the unspectacular in Russian new media practices, the seemingly meaningless acts and utterances in the landscape of Russian new media that are an enduring expression of cultural politics. This allows her to engage with  affect and emotion, citizenship, celebrity, identity work and memory. Her  doctoral work, a product of archival and ethnographic research in Russia, was an ethno-historical study of Indian cinema’s reception in the post-Stalinist Soviet era, and the first such study of Soviet movie-going. It allowed her to combine oral histories with archival material, and was thus situated at the intersection of memory studies, audience studies, media ethnography and history. These findings have been published as Indian Films in Soviet Cinemas: the Culture of Movie-going after Stalin (IUP, Bloomington, 2010).

March 15, 2018

Cosmopolitan Nationalists: Can Studying the 2008 Student Demonstrations in China Help Develop a Comparative Perspective on Online Youth Nationalism?

VOC Zaal, Bushuis, Kloveniersburgwal 48, Amsterdam

Professor Pál Nyiri, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Dr. Krisztina Lajosi, University of Amsterdam

In the run-up to the Peking Olympics of 2008, a worldwide wave of demonstrations by Chinese students defending the Chinese government from Western criticism took Afbeelding1observers by surprise. Why did young, well-to-do Chinese students in the West come out to support an authoritarian government? Since then, we have seen youth mobilised in support of authoritarian leaders worldwide, including Russia, Hungary, Turkey and India. Just like mobilisation opposing authoritarianism, it too largely takes place on social media. This talk will discuss our combination of online and offline research in tracing the dynamics of the 2008 demonstrations and suggest that, with the global rise of online youth nationalism, similar research could be done in a comparative fashion. Dr. Lajosi will offer a response from the perspective of her research on nationalism in Hungary and Romania.

Pál Nyiri is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the VrPál Nyiriije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He holds doctorates in History and Sociology. His most recent books includeReporting for China: How Chinese Correspondents Work With the World (University of Washington Press).


Krisztina Lajosi-Moore (Ph.D. 2008) is Assistant Professor of Cultural History in the Department of European Studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on the history of European nationalism, and particularly on the relation between nationalism and various media. Her publications include Staging the Nation: Opera and Nationalism in 19th-Century Hungary (Brill, 2018); an edited volume Choral Societies and Nationalism (Brill, 2015); and an article on “National Stereotypes in Music” in Nations and Nationalism 4 (2014). Her current research projects include new nationalism in a digital age and a comparative historical study of transnational adventurers.

Russia and the Middle East since the Arab Spring 

April 19, 2018, VOC Zaal, Kloveniersburgwal 48

Professor Aleksey Malashenko

Professor Michael Kemper

In recent years, Russia has once again emerged as a major player in the Middle East. It has close relations with both Iran and Israel and competes with Saudi Arabia as a supplier of oil and gas. In Syria it has been de-facto aligned with Turkey, Iran, and the United States in battling the Islamic State; yet its support for the Asad regime puts it at odds with Washington and Ankara. Finally, as Moscow has become more active in Muslim majority countries beyond its own borders, it continues to have a tense relationship with the once-separatist Chechen republic and with the millions of labor migrants who come from former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

In this talk, Professor Aleksey Malashenko will discuss how Moscow looks at the region, how it evaluates its interests and conflicts there, and links between domestic politics in Russia and its policies abroad.

Professor Michael Kemper (UvA) will offer a response to Professor Malashenko’s presentation.

Малашенко_2016Professor Aleksey Malashenko is one of Russia’s foremost experts on Islam and the Middle East. A graduate of the Institute of Asia and Africa, he worked as a translator and research throughout the region and holds a doctorate from Moscow’s Institute of Oriental Studies. Aleksey Malashenko has taught at Colgate University in the United States, the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and spent many years on the board of the Carnegie Center in Moscow. He is currently head of research at the Dialogue of Civilizations center. Professor Malashenko is the author of many works in Russian, English, French and Arabic, including The Fight for Influence: Russian in Central Asia (2013), and most recently, Nado li boiatsia Islama (Ves’ Mir).

Michael Kemper
is professor and chair of Eastern European Studies, one of the three chair groups of kemperEuropean Studies at UvA. His major field of expertise is Islam in Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, as well as the history of Oriental Studies in Europe. Kemper studied Slavic as well as Islamic and Oriental Studies at Bochum University, Germany. With Alfrid Bustanov and Prof. Dr. Jos Schaeken (Leiden University) he investigates how Russian and other European languages are currently being used by Muslim authorities and activists, and what linguistic changes this produces. He is the author and editor of many books and articles, including Reassessing Orientalism: Interlocking Orientologies during the Cold War, (London: Routledge, 2015).

Russia, the United States, and China: From the Cold War to “America First” 

Professor Sergey Radchenko, Cardiff University, UK

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Professor Sergey Radchenko will offer a broad overview of Russian/Soviet foreign policy from 1945 to the present day, focusing in particular on Moscow’s relations with the United States and China. Russian/Soviet policy makers from Stalin to Putin desired nothing more than the recognition of their global leadership by different domestic and international audiences (especially by the Americans and the Chinese). Only such recognition afforded them much-wanted domestic political legitimacy. The problem was, and remains, in determining what such recognition entails: recognition as what – a partner, an adversary, an equal? This central problem of Moscow’s foreign policy was not resolved during the Cold War, and it has continued to plague Russia’s efforts to find a suitable role for itself in the post-Cold War world.

Sergey Radchenko is Professor of International Politics at Cardiff Universisergey_radchenko-2ty and Global Fellow and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. He specialises  in the history of the Cold War, and has written extensively on Sino-Soviet r elations, as well as contemporary foreign policies of China and Russia. His most recent book is Unwanted Visionaries: The Soviet Failure in Asia at the End of the Cold War (Oxford UP, 2014).


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