This issue highlights the Russian perceptions of other peoples and countries. Based on extensive historical material covering the 18th century to the present, we discuss the stereotypes that have developed in the course of the Russians’ interaction with their close neighbors and citizens of more remote countries whose relations have always been particularly significant from a Russian perspective. We have asked historians, sociologists, philologists, and students of culture and folklore to analyze these stereotypes, the mechanisms of creating them and their functions in Russian history or in the present-day situation. Such an analysis, as envisioned by the editors, should facilitate the difficult search for a new Russian identity which began a quarter of a century ago, after the loss of the Soviet identity. So far results are far from satisfactory. Basically what this is all about is a quest for appreciating a Russian civil nation, which, as is always the case in history, determines itself through its relations with other nations. In this sense, the new issue of OZ forms a complementary pair with the issue entitled Russia as Other (No. 5, 2007), which, on the contrary, focused on the perception of Russia and the Russians in various countries.
IN SEARCH OF IDENTITY
Boris Dubin. The Ground That Has Sunk under Our Feet. A Conversation with a Social Scientist
The OZ’s editor discusses with social scientist Boris Dubin the findings of regular monitoring of the Russian residents’ attitude towards various peoples and countries that the Levada Center has been conducting during the past few years. According to Dubin, these surveys testify to tensions existing between the ethnic, political, national, civil, civilizational and imperial planes of the Russians’ self-identification. Evidently, the country is living today not by ideas, plans, prospects or the desire to do something positive but by these tensions that are rooted in yesterday or even, largely, the day before yesterday rather than in today.
Anna Turchik. Them and Us: An Experience of Intercultural Interaction in Civil Aviation
The subjects of surveys and interviews are Russian employees of international airlines who work with more than 160 nationalities. The nationalities that are described the most often and the most vividly include the British, Chinese, Americans, and Japanese. It is, however, not so much the description of other nationalities as a clearer understanding and acceptance of our own selves, that is, Russians, which is essential. Somehow or other, all of the participants in these conversations have arrived at the conclusion that their years-long experience of multilateral contacts with people of other nationalities has enabled them to develop a clearer notion of the Russian national character.
FROM LOVE TO HATE
Alexander Meshcheryakov. A Country for Internal Emigration: The Image of Japan in the Late Soviet Picture of the World
Having given a brief characteristic of the negative attitude towards the Japanese in czarist Russia and in the Soviet Union of the interwar period, the author examines the causes of the marked change in that attitude for the better, which occurred after the end of the Second World War, and the sharp rise in the interest in Japan, the causes of its economic prosperity, its unconventional everyday life, and, most importantly, in the literature and cultural life of the Japanese. The article shows that this interest served as a kind of compensatory mechanism for the late Soviet intelligentsia, even though their knowledge about their Eastern neighbors usually remained extremely superficial.
Ivan Kurilla. The Thousand Faces of -America
The image of any country as seen through the eyes of the people of another country never freezes: it constantly acquires new features and keeps changing — sometimes slowly and sometimes, in the periods of social disturbances, swiftly. However, old notions, driven out by present-day concerns, do not disappear without trace. They move to the background and are hidden in a napkin, yet they in part persist and may be easily actualized by a stream of news or by a fresh turn in history. The article traces the main images of America that replaced one another in Russian public consciousness in the course of the two and a half centuries of contacts between the two countries and examines the pattern of changes in Russian notions of the United States.
Inna Bulkina. The Mirror Crack’d
The last six months have seen a “breaking of a cliché,” a veritable collapse of the Russians’ and Ukrainians’ notions of each other. This is an absolutely unnatural, man-made catastrophe and, whatever its mechanisms may be, we are aware that there is no turning back, that our notions of each other will never be what they used to be. It has to be admitted that the fictitious Ukrainian with whom we dealt in the past was not as antinomic as the present one in the entire range from a “Banderovite” to an idealized hero.
A HISTORY OF ACQUAINTANCE
Andrei Teslya. Russia and “others” in the Thought of Russian Conservatives
To Russian nationalist thought, “Europe” and “the West” have from the outset been a constructed “significant other” with respect to which self-identification was developed. Predictably, the contraposition was a dynamic one: with respect to the “East” as a targeted object, Russia turned out to be included in the “Western” community of subjects where contradictions were thought of as internal.
Vera Milchina. The French in Russia under Nicholas I: “Harmful” and “Useful”
The French were traditionally regarded in Russia as trendsetters in cultural and literary fashions. However, alongside this reputation, dating back to the 17th century, they came to be viewed in another, much less complimentary way after the French Revolution of 1789: the Russian government began to perceive them as the carriers of revolutionary infection whose presence in the Russian Empire was considered undesirable, subverting the foundations of absolute monarchy. Hence the surveillance over the French carried out by the Third Section of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Chancery in Russia (office created by Emperor Nicholas I to conduct secret police operations), the opening and inspection of letters mailed by and to the French residing in Russia, and the expulsion of French citizens who incurred suspicion of being politically unreliable. However, not all the French were regarded as “harmful.” There were also “useful” French who lived and worked in Russia and who were even granted Russian citizenship.
Maria Leskinen. Polish Character in Russian Ethnography of the 19th Century
The article examines descriptions of Poles in Russian scientific and popular ethnographic literature of the second half of the 19th century and common notions about that people. The interrelation of these notions with the Polish auto-stereotype, with the prejudices of Russian traditional society, with romantic literary clichés, and with the scientific views of the period on ethnic identity is analyzed.
Yelena Kuzmina. Why the Chinese Are Such…
What are the sources of our notions about the Chinese? Are they based solely on present-day experience, or do they have deeper cultural and historical roots? In part, answers to these questions are to be found in the excellent description of the Chinese Empire of the Qing period compiled by Ivan Orlov, a member of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Beijing in the 18th century. The article includes extensive excerpts from that old book, which has long been out of print.
Galina Belyayeva, Vadim Mikhailin. Keen and Curious Eye: The Image of a Foreigner in the Soviet Cinema
The article focuses on the evolution of the cinematic image of a foreigner coming face to face with Soviet reality in the post-Stalin period. The everyday mental outlook of the late Soviet years (reproduced in feature films — in contrast to purely propagandist films, with which a comparison is also made) turns a foreigner into a somewhat paradoxical figure — a keen-eyed invulnerable character protected by his very curiosity from understanding what is actually going on in the Soviet Union.
Yelena Shmelyova, Alexei Shmelyov. Ethnic Stereotypes in Russian Anecdotes
A major place among the notions of the world characteristic of one culture or another is occupied by notions of one’s own and other peoples — so-called ethnic stereotypes. There exist various methods of identifying ethnic stereotypes; however, orientation towards explicit judgments made by culture bearers may be misleading, since a substantial number of stereotypes are not fully recognized by their carriers and thus are not revealed, and, on the contrary, a stereotype carrier may not be willing to admit to having certain stereotypes. Therefore, studying short funny stories whose characters are members of various peoples may serve as an auxiliary technique for identifying ethnic stereotypes. Among the Russian anecdotes based on ethnic stereotypes, two varieties can be singled out — ethnic anecdotes proper and “multinational” anecdotes. It may be concluded that both storytellers and listeners perceive the characters in Russian ethnic anecdotes as kind of members of the same community to which they themselves belong. In respect of Ukrainians, the reason is most likely that Ukrainians are regarded in Russian anecdotes as kind of Russians. In respect of the Chukchi, the reason may be similar: in anecdotes, both Ukrainians and Chukchi are ascribed the same traits that the Russians ascribe to themselves.
CONTINUING THE TALK (REVIEWING THE AGENDA)
Svetlana Solodovnik. Christianity of the “Russian World”
The last decade has become in many respects a turning point for the Russian Orthodox Church. By 2004, the Russian Church had increased its ideological ambitions many times over. In the post-perestroika period, believing intellectuals disputed a lot about the problems of self-identification of the Church, which could not decide what it was — a bearer of Orthodox theology or a bearer of Orthodox ideology. Today this question can be considered resolved. The latest Orthodox ideology of the “Russian world” includes the denial of the generally accepted concept of human rights, the affirmation of a special Russian path of the Church and the dangers of Ecumenism, and the encouragement of the authorities to restrict the freedom of expression on an allegedly religious basis. At the same time, a rigid vertical of power is being established in the Church itself. As a result, the official Church has now turned into a mere appendage of the State, which complicates the possibility for it to follow its vocation at all levels. Instead of “seeing the spiritual reality of human existence in the face of God,” absolutely different goals and objectives — transitory and, as a rule, opportunistic — are actualized.
Vasily Kostyrko. Towards the Archetype of Freedom
(Yan Chesnov. Narodnaya kultura. Filosofsko-antropologicheskii podkhod [Popular Culture: A Philosophical-Anthropological Approach]. Moscow, Canon+-Rehabilitation Publishers, 2014)
The book offered to the reader’s attention sets forth a theory of popular culture proposed by the author. Using his notions of consecutive change of age-related roles constituting the life of an individual in a traditional culture, the author describes the popular culture of Parfenievo District, Kostroma Oblast, and the mythological landscape of Obninsk, Borovsk, and Moscow; in the latter case, he pays particular attention to Pushkin Square and the monument standing there. His vast experience in field studies of popular culture, combined with an intense striving for its philosophical conceptualization and philosophical reflection concerning methods for studying it, makes the book interesting to a wide range of readers.
Vasily Kostyrko. The Art of Foresight or, A Guide to the Invisible
(Dmitry Antonov, Mikhail Maizuls. Anatomiya ada: putevoditel po drevnerusskoi vizualnoi demonologii [The Anatomy of Hell: A Guide to Old Russian Visual Demonology]. Moscow, Forum-Neolit Publishers, 2014)
This book will be of interest above all to those who are interested in Old Russian culture: offered to the attention of the inquisitive reader is an illustrated guide to the Old Russian version of hell. The bulk of the book is occupied not by text but by illustrations distributed according to motif frequency and importance — the features of demons, temptations, the departure of the soul, after-death trials, the ladder to heaven, the air “stations,” the elements of hell, hell as a character, Satan, the plagues, tormentor demons, Satan vanquished, etc. The album features details of medieval church frescoes, icons and book miniatures that have previously been inaccessible to the general public.
THE LAND OF OZ
Anastasia Gotovtseva. An “Encounter” with Napoleon as a Biographical Construct
Russians’ encounters with Napoleon, described in memoir and autobiographical literature, can be typologically divided into several types — an observation encounter, a conversation encounter, and a “comparison encounter.” These encounter types, having undergone metamorphoses, were reflected in works of Russian literature (War and Peace, Uncle’s Dream, The Idiot, Dead Souls, etc.). A comparison or likening to Napoleon by literary characters is quite often related to the biographies of actual persons. The article shows how an ordinary person’s “encounter” with Napoleon becomes a way of constructing real-life and fictional plots.
Sergei Magid. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk-2. Benefactors. The Lame Boy
People need myths. Using myths, they create a symbolic reality in which they subsequently live. In such a reality, life is meaningful and reasonable. It is according to their symbolic goals that people conduct themselves. They conduct themselves particularly purposefully when they are united into a nation. It is, as a rule, a local cultural hero whose life gradually becomes the main myth who unites them into a nation. For the Czechs, it was Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (TGM II) who quite unexpectedly became such a hero — unexpectedly because the Czech people treated him with suspicion and even hated him throughout the first half of his life. What kind of reality, however, is hidden behind the myth named “Masaryk”? What was the actual life lived by the man who went down in the history of the Czech oikoumene under the symbolic acronym “TGM,” popularly dubbed the Father of the Czechoslovak Republic, and what were the actual thoughts running in his mind? The reality hidden behind the triumphant myth turns out to be made up of hurts, disappointments, pain, and a vast quantity of useful lies. Useful to whom and to what purpose? In the study/essay “The Myth of TGM,” the author tries to comprehend what the reality and its accompanying myth eventually brought to the Czechs and Slovaks, to Europe and to Masaryk himself. Was it all really so necessary?
Oksana Yelisova. Three Seasons behind the Urals
OZ continues to publish essays by participants in the competition of historical research papers by senior high school students “Man in History: Russia, 20th Century,” annually conducted by the Society “Memorial.” The work now offered to the attention of our readers was a prizewinner at the 15th competition the results of which were summed up in April 2014. The essay tells about how people recruited to work in peat fields in the 1960s lived and worked. An analysis is given of the characteristic features of life near a peat mine and individual everyday occurrences that happened during work at a peat mining facility.