Exploring Global Politics, Culture, Art and Propaganda in the Social Media Age
Today, we have moved from the political concept of panem et circenses (bread and circuses) to keep the masses happy to the dangers of culture driven by spectacle and politics driven by algorithms. Post-war theoreticians of the crowd had personal experience of fascism, and today contemporary artists are attempting to address similar problems. During the XX April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, scheduled this year for April 9-12 at the Higher School of Economics, Sarah Wilson, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, will explore some of these issues in her presentation 'Culture and Emigration, Crowds and Power.'
Her paper draws on recent events involving the rise of populism in the West, as well as Russian and Chinese influence in today’s global political and cultural environment. Ahead of the conference, Wilson spoke briefly with the HSE News Service about her conference presentation, her impressions of Russian art, and plans for ongoing collaboration with HSE colleagues.
— At a high level, what are the main findings in your paper that you will cover during your presentation?
— The history of the study of crowds, which immediately fed into the 19th century military complex, is playing out in the world of contemporary politics today in a world ruled by social media and algorithms. This is fascinating and of course dangerous!
— In the abstract to your presentation, you wrote ‘propaganda has moved from walls to phones: the problem of “mind rape” remains.’ Could you say a little more about this thesis?
— Serge Tchakotine's book in 1939 examined what he called 'the rape of the crowds by political propaganda' in a world where propaganda was essentially paper-based (books, posters, etc.) and radio-based (Hitler's voice on the radio). Fine art was important enough for huge government investment - by the USSR, Nazi Germany even Republican Spain. Today, the power of the internet and the phone are paramount: the calculations of appeal to the 'lowest common denominator' make mass 'dumbing down' part of a lamentable political strategy worldwide, in conjunction with the cooption of already semi-literate or illiterate masses.
The very concept of 'mind' is surely morphing as the world becomes paradoxically imperilled by its technologies.
— Are you planning any joint programmes with HSE in the future?
— I was invited to run an MA at HSE Moscow and am eager to relaunch negotiations.
— Is there any modern Russian art that you find particularly interesting? Do you have any special plans to visit certain museums or galleries in Moscow while at the conference?
— I am passionately interested in all Russian/Soviet modern and contemporary art as it traverses 20th and 21st century history — art historically, politically and ethnographically. I shall endeavour to see as much as possible, thanks to my well-informed friends, while in Moscow. I have seen the art landscape change immeasurably since my first visit with personnel from the Centre Pompidou way back in 1981!
How the Telephone Conquered the World. Episode Five: From the US Free Market to Conservative Britain
In this series of columns on IQ.HSE, Anton Basov, HSE Faculty of Computer Science editor, discusses how telephones have become an integral part of our everyday life. The fifth episode of the series chronicles the early experiences of the telegraph and telephone in Great Britain, shedding light on the challenges they faced, and explores the adverse impact of excessive government regulation and nationalisation on the evolution of telecommunications.
Petroleum for equine care, wood oil for lighting, sandalwood for Easter celebrations, and lemons and olives for entertaining unexpected guests. Russian monasteries often used these and other eastern goods in the period leading up to and during the reign of Peter the Great. Analysing their account books leads to a revision of the traditional assumptions about the primary consumers of oriental goods in Russia. These consumers, in addition to the royal and aristocratic circles, included monastery estates, as discussed in the paper ‘“Three altyns worth of petroleum…”: Oriental goods in Russia at the second half of the 17th and early 18th century’ by historian Arthur Mustafin of HSE University. Based on his paper, IQ.HSE explores the types of goods that were shipped from the East to Russia in the latter half of the 17th to the early 18th century, including the routes and purposes of these shipments.
How the Telephone Conquered the World. Episode Four: David the Start-up Versus the Corporate Goliath
The history of the invention of telephony reads like a captivating detective novel, but even more intriguing are the events that contributed to the worldwide adoption of this technology. In this series of columns on IQ.HSE, Anton Basov, HSE Faculty of Computer Science editor, discusses how telephones have become an integral part of our everyday life. The fourth episode of the series recounts the story of the fledgling start-up's confrontation with hordes of patent trolls and its subsequent victory in a full-blown corporate war against the largest telecommunications company of the late 19th century.
‘In Search of the Key to the Past’: Students of HSE Art and Design School in Nizhny Novgorod Develop Collection of Souvenirs
The HSE Art and Design School in Nizhny Novgorod, together with the ‘Protected Quarters’ project to revive Nizhny Novgorod’s historical territories, have carried out the ‘Timeless’ creative project, which included a design laboratory and an educational programme. As a result of the creative workshop, students made concepts for souvenir products based on the local identity.
Today, we can make a telephone call to anyone, anywhere in the world—but this was not always the case. In this series of columns on IQ.HSE, Anton Basov, HSE Faculty of Computer Science editor, discusses how telephones have become an integral part of our everyday life. The third episode focuses on the evolution of telephone connections, the first subscribers, and the history of the telephone directory.
‘We Have Always Loved You, Sakhalin’: Research Expedition Studies Sociocultural Anthropology of Miners' Working Life in the USSR
Researchers from the School of Foreign Languages and the Group for Historical Research, together with students of the History programme at the HSE University campus in Perm, have come back from an expedition to Sakhalin Island, where they studied Soviet industrial culture and the working life of miners. The expedition participants shared their impressions of their ‘immersion into the past’ and the extraordinary landscapes of the island with the HSE News Service.
Throughout July, students of the HSE International Summer University are studying Russian History and Behavioural Economics. The courses are taking place in an online format—something that seemed unthinkable for a summer programme before the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent years have shown that online learning is a unique opportunity for students from all over the world to study with leading HSE University professors from the comfort of their own homes.
The first major Soviet publisher of children's literature, Raduga, was established a century ago and featured the debuts of many authors who would later go on to become famous, as well as illustrations by prominent artists. Based on a research paper by Marina Sazonenko, graduate of the HSE Doctoral School of Art and Design, IQ.HSE examines how — and why — the illustrations in Soviet periodicals for children changed over time.
This December, HSE University’s Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities hosted Professor Juliane Fürst, from Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History, who gave a lecture about Soviet hippies and the Soviet Flower Power. In an interview with HSE News Service, Professor Fürst spoke about her interest in Soviet subcultures and her research plans.
On September 30, Stephen Riegg, Assistant Professor of History of the Texas A&M University, presented his book Russia’s Entangled Embrace: The Tsarist Empire and the Armenians, 1801-1914 at the first seminar of this year’s Boundaries of History series.We spoke with Professor Alexander Semyonov, the seminar chair and the Director of the HSE Centre for Historical Research, about the goals of the seminar and to Stephen Riegg about his research.