Svetlana Borodina

Mellon Teaching Fellow in the Harriman Institute and Lecturer in Anthropology
Columbia University
12th Floor, International Affairs Building
212 854-4623
As a medical and cultural anthropologist, Svetlana Borodina studies post-Soviet cultures and the politics of disability inclusion in Russia. Her ethnographic work explores the technologies through which bodily and mental differences become folded into the production of postsocialist forms of citizenship and relationality for abled and disabled individuals alike.
At Harriman, Dr. Borodina will be working on her book manuscript tentatively titled A Postsocialist Journey of Inclusion, which offers an anthropological account of the trajectory of the internationally acclaimed, liberally versed disability-inclusion mandate that began with negotiations around the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Borodina traces how this mandate traveled to inclusion programs in post-Soviet Russia and then appeared in reports of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on Russia. The ethnographic material collected offers insight into how the globally configured biopolitical regimes of inclusivity are challenged and changed on the ground, under the influence of local agendas of competing and collaborating stakeholders. Additionally, this project offers an analysis of Russia’s current repertoire of ability models and valued regimes of citizenship. It pays particular attention to the conditions that enable the rebranding of people with disabilities as valued contributors to society and implicate people with disabilities into the production of the image of an able and modern nation. Finally, in this project, Dr. Borodina provides an overview of Russian cultures of community building and the practice of freedom as she addresses the concepts of ability and valued forms of civic participation in Russia. 
Dr. Borodina received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Rice University in 2020. She also holds graduate certificates in Critical and Cultural Theory and in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She has written about the affective politics at the nexus of bodies, technology, and biopolitical discourses of self-care, and about the emergent renegotiations of what constitutes ability and disability in contemporary Russia. Her research has been supported by the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Social Sciences Research Institute at Rice University.