New Modes of Communication in the Post-Soviet World

New Modes of Communication in the Post-Soviet World

Harriman Institute 2009-2010 Core Project 

During the academic year 2009-10 the Harriman Institute sponsored a core project investigating New Modes of Communication in the Post-Soviet World. It centered on electronic modes of communication, above all, the internet in all its genres, with secondary attention to traditional media. The time frame is the last two decades. In broadest terms the project is open to the discussion of modes of communication throughout the geographical area defined by the Soviet Union, from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia; in practice the project will focus on contemporary Russia.
The internet and related developments of technology present various interesting, sometimes paradoxical, questions for analysis, including the nature of blog networks and networks of special interests; censorship, official and group generated; the use of the internet for the promotion of cultural and political agendas; the role of women; the internet as a force of political activism; the register and form of language used. In addressing these and related questions, the project will be particularly interested in examining and developing effective methodologies for studying the internet in general. 

Throughout the year the project will sponsor a range of activities: a workshop involving primarily local participants (but with some invited guest speakers); a series of presentations by cultural figures of note who have been active in the Russian internet, and, more specifically, the Russian and Eurasian internet as a distinct phenomenon, to demonstrate how individuals and generations respond to the internet; and a culminative open conference at the end of the academic year. There will also be showings of selections from the tapes of Soviet TV made at the Harriman Institute by the TV Project. 

Central to the activates of the project are two post-doctoral fellows, Eugene Gorny (Ph.D. University of London), who—in addition to his own active participation in Russian internet life—has written on the construction of self on the internet, and Florian Toepfl (Ph.D., University of Passau), who has investigated the relationship between print and electronic journalism in Russia and the Czech Republic. 

The project is organized by Alan Timberlake, whose interest in linguistics extends into how language is used and the behavior of speakers, and Catharine Nepomnyashchy, who has a long-term interest in the interaction of culture with politics and ideologies (she is a member of the Bergen working group “The Future of Russia” on Russian language on the web).

Click here for video of the event, "A Conversation about Literature and Life with Tatyana