Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Mixed Messages: Mediating Native Belonging in Asian Russia by Kathryn E. Graber

This event was held virtually as a Zoom webinar and streamed via YouTube Live

Click here to purchase the book from Book Culture NYC.

Please join us for an event in the Minority Inclusion and Exclusion in Soviet and Post-Communist Societies Speaker Series, a discussion with Kathryn E. Graber, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington and author of Mixed Messages: Mediating Native Belonging in Asian Russia (Cornell University Press, 2020).

Focusing on language and media in Asian Russia, particularly in Buryat territories, Mixed Messages engages debates about the role of minority media in society, alternative visions of modernity, and the impact of media on everyday language use. Graber demonstrates that language and the production, circulation, and consumption of media are practices by which residents of the region perform and negotiate competing possible identities.

What languages should be used in newspapers, magazines, or radio and television broadcasts? Who should produce them? What kinds of publics are and are not possible through media? How exactly do discourses move into, out of, and through the media to affect everyday social practices? Mixed Messages addresses these questions through a rich ethnography of the Russian Federation’s Buryat territories, a multilingual and multiethnic region on the Mongolian border with a complex relationship to both Europe and Asia.

Mixed Messages shows that belonging in Asian Russia is a dynamic process that one cannot capture analytically by using straightforward categories of ethnolinguistic identity.

Kathryn E. Graber is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University.


Minority Inclusion and Exclusion in Soviet and Post-Communist Societies

2020-2021 Speaker Series

As we continue to struggle with issues of discrimination and systemic racism in our own country, it’s important to broaden our perspectives and examine the often-overlooked experiences of minorities and vulnerable communities living in Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe. Over the next couple of years, we have planned an academic speaker series that considers some of the latest academic research on issues of discrimination, representation, identity, and inequality in the USSR and post-socialist societies.

The series, organized by Postdoctoral Research Scholar Svetlana Borodina, will look at minorities and marginalized groups in the post-Soviet and post-socialist space—how they become folded into or erased from (post)socialist national projects. Speakers will engage with different national contexts and social groups to help the audience build a nuanced understanding of the wide spectrum of inclusion and exclusion measures practiced in Soviet and postsocialist societies. We will tackle the following questions:

What kinds of minority bodies and identities serve as tokens of national flourishing in (post)socialist societies? 

How do marginalized people reclaim their right to participate in shaping their future and the future of their countries, more broadly?

What is unique about postsocialist discourses of diversity and inclusion and what global challenges do they respond to?

DECEMBER 1, 2020
Voices from the Soviet Edge: Southern Migrants in Leningrad and Moscow

Jeff Sahadeo, Associate Professor at the Institute of Europe, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Carleton University

JANUARY 22, 2021
Mixed Messages: Mediating Native Belonging in Asian Russia

Kathryn E. Graber Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Central Eurasian Studies, Indiana University Bloomington

FEBRUARY 17, 2021
Narkomania: Drugs, HIV, and Citizenship in Ukraine

Jennifer J. Carroll, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Elon University

MARCH 17, 2021
Post-Socialist Rehabilitations: Disability, Race, Gender and Sexuality and the Limits of National Belonging

Kateřina Kolářová, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies, Charles University, Prague

APRIL 7, 2021
The War Between the Wars: The Turk, the Homosexual, and Temporal Condensation in Postsocialist Armenia

Tamar Shirinian, Postdoctoral Teaching Associate Department of Anthropology University of Tennessee Knoxville

Event Video