7 p.m., October 9, 2009
A Lecture by Philosopher Alexei Penzin:
“Postcolonial Theory and Post-Soviet Culture”
Emerging in the 1980s from the works of Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Baba, and many other well-known intellectuals, postcolonial theory has long ago become an international idiom for culture analysis and has also influenced contemporary art practices. In Russia, however, these theories are still little known and have practically no impact on public debate. And yet, as it undergoes an identity crisis and slips ever further into cultural isolation and “exoticism,” post-Soviet society supplies us with many reasons to employ the instruments of postcolonial theory.
This lecture reviews the fundamental ideas of this theory while also treating the paradoxes that arise when we apply this critical optics to post-Soviet culture.
Alexei Penzin is a philosopher, a fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), and a member of the Chto Delat workgroup.
Admission is free. Lecture in Russian.
Garage Center for Contemporary Culture
19A ulitsa Obraztsova
Telephone: +7 495 645 0520
A video film by Chto Delat
Director: Olga Egorova (Tsaplya)
Music by Mikhail Krutik
Assistant Directors: Vladan Jeremić, Rena Rädle, Dmitry Vilensky
Script and Stage Design: Vladan Jeremić, Tsaplya, Rena Rädle, Dmitry Vilensky
Costume Design: Natalya Pershina (Gluklya)
Choreography: Nina Gasteva
Editing and Post-Production: Olga Egorova (Tsaplya) and Dmitry Vilensky
Production was done in Belgrade in July 2009 by Biro Beograd za Kulturu i Komunikaciju.
The film presents an analysis of a concrete situation: Partisan Songspiel begins with a representation of the political oppression (forced evictions) the government of the city of Belgrade visited on the Roma people inhabiting the settlement of Belleville, on the occasion of the summer Universiade Belgrade 2009. It also addresses a more universal political message about the existence of the oppressors and the oppressed: in this case, the city government, war profiteers and business tycoons versus groups of disadvantaged people − factory workers, NGO/minoritarian activists, disabled war veterans, and ethnic minorities. At the same time the film establishes something that we can call the “horizon of historical consciousness,” which is represented through the choir of “dead partisans” who comment on the political dialogue between the oppressors and the oppressed.
This now becomes a particularly urgent matter since, as General McChrystal has testified, the only way this war could be won for NATO would be if another 40,000 troops were poured in. The Senlis Council has recently reported that the Taliban now has a serious, permanent and active presence in 80% of Afghanistan, in addition to whatever base it has in the North-West Frontier Province. That means that the war, if it is allowed to continue, will become bloodier, and will consume more and more able bodies. Those bodies definitely look pretty in their little boxes, and the ceremonies they have for them are obviously quite moving in a certain light. But what’s the point of it? To impose a client regime that even the war powers have stopped pretending is anything but a corrupt and brutal confederation of drug-dealing pro-American warlords? As miserable as life is on Job Seekers Allowance or on minimum wage, and as much as the yearning for adventure militates against such a bleak prospect, these kids would still be much better off on the dole.
Read the full text here.