This Week

Tuesday, September 3, 2019 to Friday, October 18, 2019
Harriman Institute Atrium, 12th Floor International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St)

Exhibit runs September 3 – October 18, 2019. Exhibit hours are Monday–Friday, 9:30AM – 5:00PM excluding university holidays.

Please join us for an opening reception on Wednesday, September 4 at 6:00pm.

The Harriman Institute is pleased to present the exhibit Moscow: Gay Cruising Sites of the Soviet Capital, 1920s-1980s featuring a series of works photographs by artist Yevgeniy Fiks.

"What is the attitude of bourgeois society to homosexuals? Even if we take into account the differences existing on this score in the legislation of various countries, can we speak of a specifically bourgeois attitude to this question? Yes, we can. Independently of these laws, capitalism is against homosexuality by virtue of its entire class-based tendency. This tendency can be observed throughout the course of history, but it is manifested with especial force now, during the period of capitalism’s general crisis."

— from a 1934 letter to Stalin by Harry Whyte, a British communist living in Moscow

Moscow documents gay cruising sites in Soviet Moscow, from the early 1920s to the USSR's dissolution in the early 1990s. Photographed in 2008 in a simple but haunting documentary style, these sites of the bygone queer underground present a hidden and forgotten Moscow, with a particular focus on Revolutionary Communist and Soviet state sites appropriated by queer Moscovites.

Sverdlov Square with its Monument to Karl Marx, a public lavatory at the Lenin Museum, Sapunov Lane (named after the hero and martyr of the October Revolution Y. N. Sapunov), Gorky Park of Culture and Rest, and Sretensky Boulvard (which later housed a monument to Lenin's wife N.K. Krupskaya) are among the gay cruising sites of Soviet-era Moscow photographed in this series. Moscow is about junctions but mostly disjunctions of the "queer" and the "Soviet" discourses in the USSR narrative.

The Moscow spaces photographed in this series are empty, sterile, and devoid of any subjects. Moscow is a project of mourning and remembrance, a kaddish not only for the bygone repressed and criminalized sexual and gender dissent on the margins of the Soviet society, but for the larger Communist project of universal emancipation itself. Thousands of Moscovites pass through these invisible spaces of commemoration every day, without knowledge of their significance in Soviet gay history.

Moscow traces an alternative history of Moscow, where mundane and seemingly silent views of streets, squares or parks of the Russian capital become a counter-monument of queer experience under Soviet socialism. Moscow attempts to overlap the main narrative of Soviet history with experiences of difference and particularity on the margins of the Soviet meta narrative.'

The opening reception on September 4 will feature a performative reading by actor Chris Dunlop of the 1934 letter to Joseph Stalin by the British Communist and Moscow resident Harry Whyte, in which he attempts to defend homosexuality from a Marxist-Leninist perspective in the face of the campaign of mass arrests that swept Moscow and Leningrad gay circles in 1933-1934. After reading it, Stalin noted on the margins "idiot and degenerate." The letter was to remain unanswered but was kept in the closed Soviet archives until 1990 and was translated into English for the publication in the book Moscow (Ugly Duckling Presse) by Thomas Campbell.

Yevgeniy Fiks was born in Moscow in 1972 and has been living and working in New York since 1994. Fiks has produced many projects on the subject of the Post-Soviet dialog in the West, among them:  “Communist Party USA,” a series of portraits of current members of Communist Party USA, painted from life in the Party’s national headquarters in New York City; and “Communist Guide to New York City,” a series of photographs of buildings and public places in New York City that are connected to the history of the American Communist movement. Fiks’ work has been shown internationally. This includes exhibitions in the United States at Winkleman and Postmasters galleries (both in New York) Mass MoCA, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Marat Guelman Gallery in Moscow; Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico City, and the Museu Colecção Berardo in Lisbon. His work has been included in the Biennale of Sydney (2008), Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011), and Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (2015).



Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Rennert Hall, Kraft Center (606 West 115th Street, lower level)

Please join us for a panel discussion featuring Steven Kaplan, host of the radio and TV show "Tolkovishche with Seva Kaplan" and Rafael Shimunov, an artist an activist from Queens, moderated by Professor Anna Katsnelson.

The majority of Russian-speaking immigrants in the U.S. are Republican-leaning. According to U.S. News and World Report, 70% to 75% of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants voted for Republican candidates in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. While Brooklyn, New York, leans blue overall, in the 2016 election Trump received up to 81% of the vote in some precincts of the Russian-speaking enclaves of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.

Russian speakers in the U.S. are divided intergenerationally, with many older voters preferring Republicans for their historically tough stance on Russia while younger voters are becoming more actively involved in protesting Trump. Trump, however, has not maintained the Republicans' traditionally tough stance on Russia, and he uses his office as a bully pulpit fostering anti-immigrant language during a time of mass shootings targeting ethnic minorities, including one at a synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburg that welcomed many Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants in the 70s, 80s, 90s. The assailant chose that synagogue for its support of HIAS, an organization that has brought many Russian-speaking immigrants to the U.S. Despite these seeming contradictions to their values, the older Russian-speaking community continues to support Trump.

Panelists will discuss this disconnect in the Russian-speaking community.

Rafael Shimunov is an artist and activist from Queens, NYC who arrived to the U.S. as a HIAS child refugee from Russian-dominated Uzbekistan. His narrative livestream from JFK airport during the first implementation of Trump’s Muslim Ban garnered 16 million viewers and helped spark airport protests across the country, later landing him on CNN. He has recently installed an unauthorized exhibit at the Whitney Museum to protest the (now former) co-chair’s manufacturing of tear gas and chemical explosives used by Border Patrol on families seeking asylum, and helped successfully organize Queens residents against building an Amazon headquarters because of the company's ties to ICE, police militarization, and labor abuse. Rafael is an executive board member of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), is the co-founder of The Jewish Vote, and helped grow IfNotNow as an early organizer. He has worked with Michael Moore, The Center for Constitutional Rights, The Working Families Party and is a team-recipient of a Cannes award for digital agency work. He helped launch the largest national bail fund in history.

Steven Kaplan has hosted the radio and TV show "Tolkovishche with Seva Kaplan" since 1993, and played a foundational role in Russian radio in America. He has been featured in the New York Times, NY Daily News and Born in Moscow to a family of musicians, Kaplan was educated by the "Enemies of the People": Samizdat, BBC, Radio Liberty, VOA, and others. He has served in the Soviet Army; worked as a bear hunter; held a position in the psychology department at Moscow State University; and was a refusenik and dissident. From 1989 to 1993, after having escaped fromt he USSR to the U.S., he worked as a producer/director for the NY office of Radio Liberty.

Thursday, September 19, 2019
6:00pm - 7:30pm
James Room, 418 Barnard Hall (3009 Broadway)

Please join us for a panel discussion on the expansion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) across Eurasia and the risks of conflict and dispute that the promoters of the Initiative might have to address.

Registration is required. Please click here to register.

This event is organized by the Istanbul Policy Center–Stiftung Mercator Initiative at Sabancı University, together with Columbia University’s Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies, The Harriman Institute, ISERP, and Columbia Global Centers, Istanbul.


Keynote speaker

Bruno Maçães, author of The Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of the New World Order (Penguin Books, 2018)


Lanxin Xiang, Professor of International History and Politics, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Geneva

Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University


Alexander Cooley, Director, Harriman Institute, Columbia University

Monday, September 23, 2019
9:30am - 11:00am
1512 International Affairs Building (420 West 118th St, 15th floor)

Please join the Harriman Institute and the School of International and Public Affairs for an event with Urmas Reinsalu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia. Professor Jenik Radon (SIPA) will moderate.

This event is open to Columbia affiliates only, and registration is required. Columbia UNI is required for registration. Please click here to register under the "Reserve Your Seat" button.

Monday, September 23, 2019
3:30pm - 5:00pm
1512 International Affairs Building (420 West 118th St, 15th floor)

Please join the Harriman Institute, the School of International and Public Affairs, and the SIPA Eurasia Group for an event with Aidarbekov Chingiz AzamatovichMinister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic. Alexander Cooley (Director, Harriman Institute) will moderate.

This event is open to Columbia affiliates only, and registration is required. Columbia UNI is required for registration. Please click here to register under the "Reserve Your Seat" button.