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Preview: Sean's Russia Blog

Sean's Russia Blog

Russia Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Last Build Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2018 17:38:00 +0000


The SRB Podcast in 2017

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 02:47:22 +0000

The SRB Podcast in 2017 by the numbers.

The Russian Revolution as Past Made Present

Sun, 24 Dec 2017 22:51:54 +0000

Mikhail Zygar's The Empire Must Die provides a narrative timeline for the Russian Revolution as an allegory for Russia’s present.

The Materiality of Russian Oil

Sun, 24 Dec 2017 20:50:58 +0000

I review Doug Rogers' deconstruction of oil—not to uncover its relations of production—to trace the dispersion of its value in shaping the post-Soviet province of Perm.

The Russian Revolution as Utopian Leap in the Open Air of History

Sun, 24 Dec 2017 20:12:22 +0000

Mark Steinberg on the symbolism of angels, wings, and flight in the Russian Revolution. [spp-player]

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Assessing the Russian Military

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 18:21:37 +0000

Guest: Michael Kofman on the Russian military. [spp-player]

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Daughter of the Cold War

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 17:20:08 +0000

Guest: Grace Kennan Warnecke on growing up in George F. Kennan's shadow. [spp-player]

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American History Through Russian Eyes

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 20:22:47 +0000

Guest: Ivan Kurilla on American studies in Russia. [spp-player]

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Russian LGBTQ and New Left Activism

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 13:44:30 +0000

Guest: Jessica Mason on LGBTQ activism and the New Left in Russia. [spp-player]

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Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 20:54:14 +0000

Guest: Brendan McGeever on the Bolsheviks and antisemitism. [spp-player]

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The Politics of Russia’s Apartment Demolition

Sun, 24 Sep 2017 15:37:15 +0000

Guest: Maxim Trudolubov on Moscow's apartment demolition plans. [spp-player]

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Feminists in the Maidan

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 01:56:36 +0000

Guest: Emily Channell-Justice on feminist activism and the Maidan. [spp-player]

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Women, Resistance, and Revolution

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 20:14:50 +0000

Guest: Sheila Rowbotham on a lifetime of socialist feminist activism. [spp-player]

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Retrospective on Stalinism

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 18:23:28 +0000

Guest: Sheila Fitzpatrick on Stalinism.

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SRB on This is Hell!

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 15:35:20 +0000

A This is Hell! interview with your humble host. [spp-player]

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Navalny and the Left

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 16:25:15 +0000

A response to the responses to the Navalny question and the Russian Left.

Russian Peasants in Revolution

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 20:07:25 +0000

Guest: Aaron Retish on peasants in the Russian Revolution.

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A Life with the Russian Revolution

Wed, 17 May 2017 15:40:44 +0000

Guest: Alexander Rabinowitch on the Bolsheviks coming to power. [spp-player]

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Russophobia in America: A Genealogy

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:39:30 +0000

My talk at the Kennan on the history of russophobia. [spp-player]

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The Russian Propaganda Machine

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 20:50:26 +0000

Guest: Alexey Kovalev on Russian propaganda. [spp-player]

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Experiencing the Russian Revolution

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 17:53:58 +0000

Guest: Mark Steinberg on the experience of the Russian Revolution. [spp-player]

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The Invisibility of Chernobyl in Belarus

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 19:34:48 +0000

Guest: Olga Kuchinskaya on confronting Chernobyl. [spp-player]

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Wading Through RuNet

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 22:02:00 +0000

Guest: Kevin Rothrock on the politics and pleasures of RuNet. [spp-player]

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Most Popular SRB Podcasts of 2016

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 15:04:56 +0000

The SRB Podcast had an amazing year. More amazing than I had anticipated. I managed to put out 43 interviews in 2016 on a wide variety of topics concerning Eurasian politics, culture and history. Feedback on the show’s content and quality has been overwhelmingly positive and criticisms and suggestions have been constructive and helpful. I’ve […]

The Perils of Donbas Fatigue

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 19:43:17 +0000

Guest: Brian Milakovsky on the life in the Donbas. [spp-player]

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Russian Labor, Class, and Conflict

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 16:48:46 +0000

Guest: Steven Crowley on the Russian labor movement. [spp-player]

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The Soviet Era of Television

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 15:08:01 +0000

Guest: Christine Evans is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research interests include Modern Eurasian mass culture and communications and play, leisure, and consumption. She’s the author of Between Truth and Time: A History of Soviet Central Television published by Yale University Press. Watch some Soviet TV! KVN Final, 1964 […]

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The State of Russia

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:58:21 +0000

Guest: Masha Lipman on the current state of Russian politics. [spp-player]

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Politkovskaya Ten Years On

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 14:08:07 +0000

It’s been ten years since an assassin put four bullets in Anna Politkovskaya—three in her chest, one in her head, the hallmark of a contract hit. And what can be said on this macabre anniversary?

Russian Punk Rock

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 17:18:42 +0000

Guest: Alexander Herbert on Russian punk rock. [spp-player]

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The American Mission to Save Russia

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 20:03:06 +0000

Guest: David Foglesong on the American mission to save Russia. [spp-player]

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The Origins of the Donbas War From Below

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 18:35:53 +0000

Guest: Serhiy Kudelia on the local dimensions of the Donbas war. [spp-player]

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Mapping Russian Labor Conflict

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 13:39:08 +0000

In July, the Center for Economic and Political Reform, a think tank that monitors and studies social and economic issues in Russia, released a report on labor conflict in the second quarter of 2016. In this period, TsEPR identified 263 incidents in 65 regions in Russia, 34 more than the first quarter. Fifty-six were specifically labor […]

Ossified Putinism

Sat, 13 Aug 2016 21:28:43 +0000

Guest: Mark Galeotti on Putinism. [spp-player]

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Soviet Nostalgia in the South Caucasus

Fri, 22 Jul 2016 20:03:16 +0000

Guest: Maxim Edwards on historical memory in the south Caucasus. [spp-player]

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Russia’s New Anti-Terror Laws

Fri, 15 Jul 2016 17:55:59 +0000

Guest: Gleb Bogush on Russia's anti-terror laws. [spp-player]

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The US Pledge on NATO Expansion

Wed, 29 Jun 2016 18:44:40 +0000

Guest: Josh Shifrinson on the US pledge on no NATO expansion. [spp-player]

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From Great Fear to the Great Terror

Wed, 22 Jun 2016 19:35:40 +0000

Guest: James Harris is a Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at Leeds University where he specializes in the history of Stalinism. James has published several books and articles on the Stalin period. His most recent book is The Great Fear: Stalin’s Terror in the 1930s.

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The Stillbirth of the Soviet Internet

Wed, 15 Jun 2016 19:42:03 +0000

Guest: Ben Peters is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Tulsa and affiliated faculty at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. He is the author of How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet. Music: Kraftwerk, “Computer World,” Computer World, 1984.

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A Journey into Putin’s Country

Wed, 08 Jun 2016 20:15:12 +0000

Guest: Anne Garrels is a former foreign correspondent for National Public Radio and the author of Naked in Baghdad which chronicled the events surrounding the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. Her most recent book is Putin’s Country: A Journey into the Real Russia. Music: Aesop Rock, “No Regrets,” Labor Days, 2001.

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SRB Weekly Dispatch #7

Tue, 07 Jun 2016 16:55:44 +0000

The SRB Weekly Dispatch #7, the newsletter that rewinds the week in Russia, is out. You can access the newsletter here. You can read newsletters #1-6 here. Subscribe to the SRB Weekly Dispatch! * indicates required Email Address * First Name Last Name Country Email Format html text View previous campaigns.

The Paradoxes of Lviv

Wed, 01 Jun 2016 18:10:52 +0000

Guest: Tarik Cyril Amar is an Associate Professor of History at Columbia University specializing in the Soviet Union, Russia, and Ukraine. He’s the author of The Paradox of Ukrainian Lviv. A Borderland City between Nazis, Stalinists, and Nationalists. Music: Danger Doom, “Space Ho’s,” The Mouse and the Mask, 2005.

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Support the SRB Podcast!

Mon, 30 May 2016 13:55:55 +0000

  Since 2005, I’ve provided critical commentary on Russia’s past and present on this blog. These many years of blogging proved to me that there is general public interest beyond the academy and expert community for critical, nuanced, and thoughtful commentary on Russia. In 2015, I decided to take advantage of this hunger and start […]

Russia Through German Eyes

Thu, 26 May 2016 21:00:53 +0000

Guest: James Casteel is an assistant professor of German, Russian, and Jewish history in the Institute of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University. His research interests include transnational relations between Germany and Russia, nations and empires in central and eastern Europe, and diasporic cultures and belonging. He is the author of Russia in […]

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Autocracy, Marriage, and Power in Early Modern Russia

Wed, 18 May 2016 20:06:48 +0000

Guest: Russell Martin is a professor of History at Westminster College focusing on autocracy, marriage, power and the Romanov dynasty in early modern Russia. He is the author of many books and articles. His most recent book is A Bride for the Tsar: Bride-Shows and Marriage Politics in Early Modern Russia. Reading: Russell Martin, “Eulogy […]

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There Is No Other Way

Tue, 17 May 2016 15:25:37 +0000

Oleg Shein posted the following on his Facebook page: Today, the State Duma adopted a law raising the minimum wage from 6200 to 7500 rubles. This is definitely a good move. In fact, it’s not so small for workers who earn pennies. In 2011, 2.3 million people earned less than a subsistence wage in the formal sector of […]

Love, Sex, and Porn in Russia

Wed, 11 May 2016 18:21:08 +0000

Guest: Natalia Antonova is a pundit, playwright and sometime journalist living in Russia. You can read her blog where she comments a wide variety of topics, including sex, at Her most recent article is “Russia’s Porn Stars Aren’t Just Hot, They’re Also Ostracised And Exploited” on Open Democracy. Music: Prince and the Revolution, “Darling […]

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Managing the Russian Hajj

Mon, 02 May 2016 23:33:09 +0000

Guest: Eileen Kane is an Associate Professor of History at Connecticut College where she specializes in empires, migrations, religion and historical connections between the Russian and Ottoman empires. She’s the author of Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. Music: The Roots, “Adrenaline!” Things Fall Apart, 1999.

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SRB Weekly Dispatch #2

Mon, 02 May 2016 00:58:51 +0000

The SRB Weekly Dispatch #2, a weekly newsletter rewinding Russia, came out today. If you’re not subscribed and would like to read it, you can find it here. If you missed last week’s you can read it here. You can sign up for the weekly edition to be sent to your inbox below: Subscribe to […]

The Callousness of Russian Intensive Care Units

Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:05:20 +0000

I don’t normally hype the translations I’ve been doing on side for Meduza’s English portal. I feel I don’t need to promote everything. But I wanted to draw readers to this recent translation I did of Katerina Gordeeva’s article “The business of breathing How Vladimir Putin tried and failed to help Russia’s sickest children” on […]

The Podcast Theme Song

Wed, 27 Apr 2016 23:10:29 +0000

Many people have asked me about the theme song to the SRB Podcast. So instead of answering the question over and over by individual request, I’ve finally decided to post it on the blog for all to enjoy. The song is Moya Marusechka (Моя Марусечка) by Petr Leshchenko, 1898-1954 (his Russian Wikipedia page has a […]

Alexander Shlyapnikov: An Old Working Class Bolshevik

Tue, 26 Apr 2016 23:59:11 +0000

Guest: Barbara Allen is an associate professor of history at La Salle University where she specializes in the Russian revolutionary movement and the early Soviet regime. Her research interests include the history of working-class opposition to the Soviet Communist Party’s dictatorship. Her most recent book is Alexander Shlyapnikov, 1885-1937: Life of an Old Bolshevik which […]

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SRB Weekly Dispatch #1

Sun, 24 Apr 2016 20:00:15 +0000

I’ve started a weekly newsletter and the first edition is now available. Readers can access it here. If you’d like to subscribe and get it in your email inbox, please fill out the form below. Subscribe to the SRB Weekly Dispatch! * indicates required Email Address * First Name Last Name Country Email Format html […]

A Letter to the Russian Elite

Sat, 23 Apr 2016 14:42:04 +0000

I was on Brian Whitmore’s Power Vertical podcast this week. In thinking over some of my comments, I realized that I was basically giving the Russian elite advice on how to be a functioning bourgeoisie. The bourgeois class project in Russia has been a historical failure. Russia’s third bourgeois is currently too busy with its head buried […]

Russia’s Foreign Policy Trajectories

Mon, 18 Apr 2016 20:04:10 +0000

Guest: Andrei Tsygankov is a Professor in the departments of Political Science and International Relations at San Francisco State University where he teaches Russian/post-Soviet, comparative and international politics. His most recent book is Russia’s Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity. Music: The Heptones, “Message from a Black Man,” Studio One Soul, 2001.

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Russian Debt Collectors’ Reign of Terror

Thu, 14 Apr 2016 14:44:11 +0000

I wrote an article for OpenDemocracy on microloans and debt collector violence. I’ve been mulling the article since January when I read a gruesome story about a debt collector throwing a Molotov cocktail through the debtor’s window severely burning his two year old grandson. A Google news search revealed that though this incident was one of […]

The Use and Abuse of Nagorno-Karabakh

Tue, 12 Apr 2016 20:04:23 +0000

Guest: Ryan McCarrel is a Ph.D. Candidate at University College Dublin’s School of Geography where he focuses on geopolitics, borders and world (dis)order. He’s written articles for Foreign Affairs, The Diplomat, and blogs at the Accidental Geographer. His most recent article in Foreign Affairs is “The United Nations and Sexual Abuse: Why Peacekeeping Reform […]

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The Political Life of Vodka in Russia

Fri, 08 Apr 2016 22:05:11 +0000

Guest: Mark Schrad is an Assistant Professor in Political Science at Villanova University. He’s the author of Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State, which was just released in paperback. Music: Beastie Boys, “Brass Monkey,” Licensed to Ill, 1986.

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The Russian Authorities Not Named Putin in the Panama Papers

Tue, 05 Apr 2016 04:37:07 +0000

As the media world is fixated on Putin’s allegedly stashed $2 billion, the not-named-Putin Russians in the leaked documents comprise of siloviki, chinovniki, parliamentarians, governors and their families. They include: Dmitri Peskov, Putin’s Press Secretary Suleiman Geremeev, Senator from Chechnya and uncle of Ruslan Geremeev, the main suspect in ordering the assassination of Boris Nemtsov […]

19 Million Russians

Mon, 04 Apr 2016 01:47:07 +0000

Over 19 million Russians live in poverty, according to a recent article in Dengi. But how is poverty determined in the Russian context? For Rosstat to categorize you as in poverty, you need to have an income lower than the subsistence minimum. For the majority of Dengi readers, this level is mockingly low: 9,452 rubles […]

The Gangs of Russia

Tue, 29 Mar 2016 22:35:24 +0000

Guest: Svetlana Stephenson is a Reader in Sociology at London Metropolitan University. Her research has involved studying informal and criminal social networks in Russia as well as perceptions of social justice and human rights in a comparative context. She is the author of Gangs of Russia, From the Streets to the Corridors of Power published […]

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US and Stalinist Prison Populations Revisited

Tue, 29 Mar 2016 16:07:33 +0000

Back in 2013, I wrote a post examining at the numbers of people in the Stalinist gulag compared to the US prison industrial complex. The post was in response to the Adam Gopnik’s and Fareed Zakaria’s claim that the over 6 million people in the US are under “correctional supervision” was higher than in the Stalinist gulag. Following a […]

Soviet Virtuosi in the Cultural Cold War

Tue, 08 Mar 2016 19:12:03 +0000

Guest: Kiril Tomoff is a professor of history at the University of California Riverside where he specializes in the history of Soviet music and its place in Soviet culture and society. His first book Creative Union: The Professional Organization of Soviet Composers, 1939-1953 provides the first ever in-depth analysis of the professional organization of Soviet […]

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