Vera Pozzi – A Year of Russian Intellectual Culture
Ever since she completed her dissertation on ‘The role of the Ecclesiastical Academies in Reception of Kantianism in the Russian Empire’ in 2015, Vera Pozzi, a native of the northern Italian city of Lecco, has sought an opportunity to return to Russia to take her research to the next level. When she saw HSE’s call for international fellowships, she was drawn by the internationally oriented nature of the application and the opportunity to apply for a field like ‘History of Russian Intellectual Culture’, which aligns perfectly with her current research interests. In September, Vera will be enrolled in the Faculty of Humanities, School of Philosophy for one year under a post-doc fellowship.
Both an opportunity and a challenge
‘I am currently carrying on my research on Russian Orthodox thought, focusing on its contemporary achievements’, Vera said. ‘My interests fall in a circle of Moscow intellectuals that meant a great deal both in the 1980s and in the post-Soviet era. I am especially fascinated by their perspective, which is traditional and innovative at the same time. ‘That has a lot to say not only in Russia, but in contemporary Western intellectual culture as well. I see this research exploration as a “crossing the boundaries” challenge’.
Vera said she also sees the fellowship at HSE itself as both a challenge and an opportunity. ‘The opportunity is to improve my research in an international and dynamic context, which will give me the possibility of thinking and working continuously. On the other hand, the challenge is to translate my thoughts into effective instruments of communication, for example for papers for scientific journals and conferences and to receive feedback’, she said.
Surrounded by a new world
‘I lived in Moscow for more than a year during my M.A. and Ph.D.’, Vera said, stressing how difficult it was at the beginning but how over time people would help her. ‘Every day I met someone who helped me, with kindness and naturalness’.
Eventually, Vera realized that she was surrounded by a new world and that her goal was above all to know and understand it. Learning Russian plays a key part of that, as does her approach to reading.
‘I will always remember an exhortation from a Russian friend of mine: “The linguistic barrier lives only in your brain!” I can’t wait to improve my Russian again, and refresh it after quite a long period outside Russia!’ she said.
As for reading, she claims that the best book one can read about Moscow, or Russia, is Russia itself – watching the crowds of people that seem to flow from one metro station to another in the most modern face of Russia, or in the fields around a dacha in a small ancient village in the region of Tula. That said, when pressed to recommend a book, she doesn’t hesitate to name Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita as her favourite.
In June, faculty members from HSE’s School of Cultural Studies, the School of Philosophy, and the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities met with colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh (USA) and a Russian art historian to participate in a round table on the importance of gender studies in the humanities. The researchers discussed questions such as what historians, philosophers, and historians can achieve when approaching their fields of study from the standpoint of gender studies, and what the state of gender studies is in contemporary Russia and abroad.
Researchers from the Higher School of Economics have begun working with the research centre of the French Saint-Cyr Military Academy (École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr) on the moral and political issues of modern-day warfare. One part of this partnership was a conference devoted to just war theory and problems with combating terrorism. Below, Faculty of Humanities Professor Boris Kashnikov, also a participant of the conference, tells Scholar Viewpoint whether there can be justice in war and how scholars of the humanities are able to work together with the military.
At the most recent Andrey Poletayev Memorial Readings held by the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI), participants discussed the relationship between the natural sciences and the social sciences. HSE Professor Elena Vishlenkova tells us why scholars in the humanities are interested in the natural sciences and what contribution they can make to this field.
From September 25 till October 5 2016, Professor Dr Joachim Küpper of the Free University of Berlin will deliver a series of lectures on ‘Humanities and Conceptualization of Time at HSE Moscow. Joachim Küpper’s travel to HSE follows the university’s decision this past summer to join a key project run by the Dahlem Humanities Center at the Free University of Berlin called ‘The Thematic Network Principles of Cultural Dynamics’.
In late May Moscow hosted a Russian-Italian research conference marking the anniversary of the birth of Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce. The conference entitled 'The Legacy of Benedetto Croce in the 21st Century' was organized by and held at the HSE's Humanities Faculty in conjunction with the Italian Cultural Institute in Moscow.
In 2016, the Higher School of Economics will be the first Russian university to become an associate member of a large project being carried out by the Freie Universität Berlin’s Dahlem Humanities Center. The project, entitled the Thematic Network Principles of Cultural Dynamics, aims to strengthen international cooperation in humanities research. Its objective is to study the factors that affect the cultural processes in the history of humanity’s development.
The Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI) held an international conference on 29-30 October 2015 on ‘Biological Concepts, Models, and Metaphors in Social and Human Sciences’. For two days, Russian, European and American researchers discussed the relations between social sciences and the humanities and various life sciences. This topic arises largely in the light of the recent boom in genetics, medicine and biology which have led academics to reconsider previous concepts of boundaries and connections between disciplines.
HSE has held its post-graduate humanities summer school 'History in the First Person: From Antiquity to Our Time'. The summer school was dedicated to texts written or recorded in the first person, as well as to various methods for analysing them. The school’s organizers and participants spoke with the HSE news service about what ego texts are, how representatives of different disciplines work with them, and how French methodology differs from Russian.
Academics from all over the world will meet on August 25th - 27th at the HSE campus in Perm for an international research seminar The Humanities in Russia and the Break of 1917: the Existential Dimension.30 researchers from Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, the USA, Uzbekistan and Ukraine will be taking part.
The 20th issue of The HSE Look is devoted to the Faculty of Humanities, another big department formed in the course of the university-wide structural reorganization, launched at HSE in December 2014. We talked to the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Alexey Rutkevich. He discussed the new opportunities and challenges connected with the foundation of this large faculty and the general situation concerning liberal arts education in Russia.