Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Anni Lappela (University of Helsinki, Finland)

"Marina Couldn't Learn That I Was Not a Foreigner": National identities in Alisa Ganieva's Prose

Alisa Ganieva is one of the most contradictory and outstanding novelists of contemporary Russia. She was born in 1985 in Moscow, but moved with her family to Dagestan and grew up there. After graduating from high school in Makhachkala, Ganieva moved to Moscow in 2002 to study at the Maxim Gorky Literary Institute. She submitted her novel "Salam tebe, Dalgat!" for the Debut Prize in 2009 under a male pseudonym, Gulla Khirachev, and won the prize. After the debut novel, she has published two other novels and a collection of book reviews. All Ganieva's novels are set (at least partly) in present-day Dagestan, not only in Makhachkala but also in the countryside. Ganieva describes the everyday life of adolescents and young adults, who grow up in the multiethnic and multicultural Dagestan and speak Russian slang, complemented by Avar and Arabic words. She tries to rewrite some national stereotypes, and in my paper I focus on analyzing these new interpretations of the national stereotypes and identities in Ganieva's prose. First, I examine what kind of national identities Ganieva describes in her prose, and how her heroes see their future in today's Caucasia. Second, I focus on the question about the description of Islam, Muslim traditions and religious debates in Ganieva's novels. Third, I search for other works of the Russian fiction of 20th and 21th centuries written by Caucasian authors (or authors with Caucasian background), as a context for Ganieva's novels. In the 19th century Russian literature, Caucasus was depicted in terms of empire and colonialism (mainly in Pushkin's, Lermontov's and Tolstoy's famous works). Ganieva's Caucasian point of view is something entirely different from this literary tradition. I also analyze some aspects of the reception of Ganieva's novels, especially the debut novel, which she wrote under a male pseudonym. Here the key question is how the writer's background and gender are treated by literary critics.