Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




The Rhetorical Foundations of Russian Politics: Putin as a Metaphor and/or a Metonymy of Russia
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Please join the us for a discussion with Ilya Kalinin. Moderated by Valentina Izmirlieva, Director of the Harriman Institute.

The question of political rhetoric, as a rule, is addressed to a specific area of application of rhetorical devices, considering the definition of “political” as a simple indication of the subject – the rhetorical devices of a particular political discourse. However, the connection between the political and the rhetorical can be found at a more fundamental level, allowing us to consider them as two ways of managing the difference or distance between the ruler and the ruled, between the state and society, between language and reality, between sign and thing, between direct and figurative meanings. Kalinin will consider political rhetoric not so much as a symbolic superstructure determined by the nature of the political basis (specific political order), but as an organizational structure of the political order itself. Thanks to these analytical optics, it is possible not only to describe the rhetoric of political discourse that uses a particular regime of power, but also to diagnose the rhetorical dominant or, as the Russian formalists would say, the “constructive principle” that determines the political order as such, its symbolic and functional core. Thus, the subject of these optics is not so much political rhetoric as it is the rhetoric of politics.

Ilya Kalinin is a visiting scholar at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (Princeton University).  His research focuses on Russian literature, early Soviet intellectual and cultural history, and on the historical and cultural politics of contemporary Russia. His essays have been translated into 14 languages and published in a wide range of journals, including Ab Imperio, Arche, Baltic Worlds, Osteuropa, Die Welt der Slaven, Sign Systems Studies, Social Sciences, Russian Literature, Russian Studies, Russian Studies in Literature, Russian Studies in Philosophy, Slavonica, Wiener Slawistischer Almanach, New Literary Observer, Logos, among others.