Defining Russian Culture

Simon Franklin and Emma Widdis, the editors of National Identity in Russian Culture: An Introduction seek to answer the question “What is ‘Russianness?’”. How do Russians view themselves? How do they view everyone else? Check out this book to find out more about what defines Russian culture.

What’s it about?

National Identity in Russian Culture

Franklin and Widdis collected 11 essays that look at topics like history, music, literature, religion, and language, in order to find out how we should talk about Russian identity. Each essay adds another piece of the puzzle into a larger whole, building a road map to the many different Russias that exist within the imaginations of the Russian people.

Curiosities of Russian Identity

The essays are not only engaging, but also allow the reader to reflect on how to describe, rather than construct, a truly Russian identity. Here are a few of their observations:

  1. “Russia” is not a unitary ideal, but rather a collection of many different stories competing with one another. It’s not an easy concept to nail down!
  2. It’s “us” versus “them.” Russians view themselves as set apart from the rest of the world. Even amongst themselves, they always desire to split into groups of “us” and “them”.
  3. What it means to be Russian is always changing. Throughout the imperialistic, Soviet, and post-Soviet eras, Russians defined themselves as what they were not rather than what they were. You can’t capture “Russianness.”

You can buy the book from the Cambridge University Press here.

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