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

Jacob Lassin (Yale University)

The Co-option and Re-imagination of Russian Realism on the Orthodox Internet

The Russian Orthodox Church has become one of the strongest partners of the Putin regime in the post-Soviet period. As a result, the Church has become one of the strongest arbiters of culture in the country. To better understand how the Church dictates the contours of Russian culture and identity, this paper will examine how Church affiliated websites contend with and redefine nineteenth-century Realism for the contemporary period. I will demonstrate that the obsession with the Realist canon and reformulating it to fit within a certain narrative about Orthodoxy's critical place in Russia's national consciousness is becoming a key battleground over contemporary Russian national identity. I will also argue that the look to the nineteenth century is not coincidental. This is a moment when Russia was modernizing rapidly, eventually leading to some of the most violent and explosive changes in Russian history. I will explore how these websites attempt to reinterpret the nineteenth century, finding lessons for Russia's contemporary problems and noting where Russia made mistakes in the past. Ultimately, I see the discussions of nineteenth-century literature and visual arts on these Orthodox websites as a means of creating an alternate pedigree for Russia's modernization, one that is distinctly counter to the Soviet narrative and legacy. Through these websites, the Church is able to position itself as the only institution with the correct vision for Russian culture, past and present, which will enable the country to maintain its international prominence and regain some of its lost prestige.