Director of the Visiting Fellows Programme
Anna Korhonen
Head of International Affairs
tel. +358-(0)50-563 63 07

Eeva Korteniemi
tel. +358-(0)50-4150 571

aleksanteri-fellows [at]

Aleksanteri Institute
P.O.Box 42 (Unioninkatu 33)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

aleksanteri [at]
firstname.lastname [at]

Location & Connections


Visiting Fellows 2016-2017

Ilya Kalinin, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia
“The Politics of Identity and (De)Modernisation Processes in Contemporary Russia”
(January 2017)

Ilya Kalinin is an Associate Professor at Department of Liberal Arts and Sciences (, St.-Petersburg State University. PhD (2002) Saint Petersburg State University. Dissertation: “Russian Literary Utopia, XVIII-XX Centuries: The Philosophy and Poetics of the Genre.”  His researches focuses on early Soviet Russia’s intellectual and cultural history, practices of self-fashioning of Soviet Subject and on the historical and cultural politics of contemporary Russia as well (post-soviet social and cultural transformations; contemporary Russian politics of history; modenization/demodernization and politics of identity in contemporary Russia).

He is editor-in-chief of the Moscow-based intellectual journal “Emergency Rations: Debates on Politics and Culture (Neprikosnovennyj Zapas/NZ: Debaty o politike i culture)” and two series of books published in Moscow Publishing House “New Literary Observer” ( He has published in a wide range of journals including Ab Imperio, Baltic Worlds, Sign Systems Studies, Social Sciences, Russian Literature, Russian Studies, Russian Studies in Literature, Slavonica, Wiener Slawistischer Almanach, New Literary Observer, etc. His book “History as Art of Articulation. Russian Formalists and Revolution” is recently forthcoming in New Literary Observer Publishing House (Moscow).

Short description of ongoing research:
One of the central conceptual goals of my research is articulation of a description of culture (or cultural production) as a space for the interaction and interrelationship of two opposed tendencies. The first of these may be characterized as the appearance of various zones of cultural autonomy—practices of self-expression and subjectivization, creative work with traditions, the performative reinvention of cultural legacies—that collectively contribute to the increase in complexity and variety of available social and cultural positions. The second we may refer to as the drive to exert state control over culture in order to endure the ideological hegemony of the state and to transform culture into a resource for state patriotism and normative political, national and cultural identification. Ironically, both of these tendencies, which exist to various degrees in the cultural space of contemporary Russia, are expressed in terms of the concept of modernization. For this reason, culture becomes an arena for struggle over the meaning of this latter concept—a struggle in which cultural and political conservatism, which more and more dominates in Russia in recent years, is gaining the upper hand. My aim is to trace the characteristic features of the state’s administrative efforts in the area of cultural production back to the total infrastructural dependence of the Russian economic and social spheres on extraction and exploitation of natural resources. To my mind, the specificity of post-Soviet modernization derives precisely from this interconnection. 

The current regime of external isolation, magnified by an internal aspiration towards isolationism that is characteristic for a significant element of the Russian elite, inevitably transforms culture (in particular, understood as “national traditions,” “the legacy of the past,” “collective memory,” “historical experience,” “cultural codes,” etc.) into an important strategic resource on which the state of necessity depends. In a situation of disjuncture from the global market of capital and technologies, Russia is forced to focus on its own internal resources, which consist of hydrocarbons and… cultural legacies. This is the root cause conditioning the drive for a more intensive cultural politics (a technology for the extraction and exploitation of cultural legacies), which is being more and more urgently expressed and recognized by Russian political elites and cultural institutions connected with the state.

Email: ilya_kalinin[AT]

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sanna Turoma, Jussi Lassila