VIOLENCE IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY RUSSIA AND EURASIA: EXPERIENCE, AFFECT, MEMORY, AND LEGACIES
June 19-20, 2015
Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Organized by Harriet Murav, Mark Steinberg, and John Randolph
Co-Sponsored by: Fisher Forum Endowment; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Hewlett Foundation; Center for Advanced Study; Program in Jewish Studies; Initative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; Department of History; Program in Comparative and World Literature
In a poem dedicated to the memory of 19 June 1914, Anna Akhmatova wrote “we aged a hundred years and this / Happened in a single hour.” The twentieth century brought unprecedented violence to the European world, not least in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The years 1914-1921, among the most bloody and destructive in Russia’s history, cannot be understood in isolation from the whole jagged landscape of violence – international wars, violent political force, national and revolutionary violence, ethnic and racial violence, interpersonal and domestic violence. Boundaries do not easily stand in violent conditions. Emancipatory and repressive violence mix and blur. Purposeful political and social struggles mix with “hooliganism” and commonplace human brutality.
And violence itself is only part of the story. The twentieth century, especially its first decades, saw a remarkable explosion of creativity in the arts, literature, science, politics, philosophy, and social organization, as well as extraordinary technological innovation and invention. Indeed, violence itself could be understood in radically different ways, including as creativity, even as actions in the name of life.
The 2015 Fisher Forum will examine the immediacy, effects, and refractions of violence in Russia and Eurasia (defined as the spaces occupied by the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union) from perspective across disciplines. Papers will also engage the question of how to interpret and theorize violence, as practice, as experience, as legacy. Indeed, while our focus is on the past, we cannot ignore lasting effects and persistent meanings, including for our own time.