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Performing Protest – Contesting Russia’s Nationalism, Sec. 2

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Organizer: Yana Meerzon

Co-Organizer: Julia Listengarten

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In the aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and brutal invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Women in Black, a transnational feminist anti-war resistance movement, staged a powerful anti-war action. In mid-March, thousands of women dressed in black, each holding a white rose, went to the streets of multiple cities across the world; they stood together in silence expressing solidarity against the war in Ukraine and morning the lives of the killed. Born in 1988 to protest the Israeli occupation of Palestine, this movement spread to Russia in the 1990s when Women in Black were protesting the Russian government’s unrelenting destruction of Chechnya. Drawing on the notion that “the past is reiterative” (Rebecca Schneider) and that “through corporeal repetition the past gains the ghostly simultaneity with the present” (Thomas DeFranz and Gustavo Furtado), this seminar invites papers across various disciplines to locate performances of political resistance and protest to Russia’s authoritarian and hegemonic practices throughout history. It offers to examine how these performances operate as an immediate response to the oppressive moment but also “harbo[r] the possibility of difference… the possibility that the past may yet have another future” (DeFranz and Furtado). In the context of Russia’s Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet histories, we ask the following questions: What are the ways to consider expressions of resistance and their potential to contest or disrupt autocracy and coloniality on a historical continuum? How do the expressions of resistance reemerge, replicate, and intersect across times and artistic mediums? And how do they perform marginality, reveal perspectives of the other, and gesture toward the future? It is our intent to develop an edited collection based on the seminar’s paper contributions and discussions.

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