The cultural and social transformations of Russia in last thirty years have become the focus of academic studies, including that of geographers who are interested in the ‘spatial crisis’ that has gripped the country since the collapse of communism and dissolution of the Soviet Union. Loss of the territory, challenges to the popular geographical imagination, such as how to incorporate the ‘blank spots’ of the Soviet past into representations of the country’s geographical landscape today, the changing pattern of spatial inequality and newly emergent forms of regional activism are just some of the topics addressed by geographers and social scientists in Russia and elsewhere.
The aim of the first Russian Readings seminar series at the University of Oxford is to create an overarching framework for understanding the ‘Russian spatial crisis’, to broaden existing theoretical approaches to the questions of spatiality in Russia and to involve various distinguished scholars and NGO activists in this discussion. The presentations at the seminars will consider the current state of academic disciplines, analyse change in urban landscapes, discuss the role of contemporary art projects in filling the gaps in post-Soviet spatial knowledge production and representations, as well as the continuities and change in the patterns of governance and of institutional geographies.
Each seminar consists of approximately 30 participants, with invited speakers leading discussion over a two-day period. The series will result in a scientific report, spin-off publications and other forms of informative media.