Triggering Political Affect: Generating Identities

At the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies convention I presented the work “Triggering Political Affect: Generating Identities” (on the example of Pussy Riot). Chicago, 11/11/2017


This is the screenshot of a snapshot taken by Olia Breininger, and it means to illustrate and support with undeniable visual evidence the claim made above.

The audio recording of my presentation is here (MP3).




Pokemon Go as a Political Endeavor

Pokemon Go is a game which revealed deeper political structures and became a socio-political action of self-surveillance, a topic of reflections on racial dynamics in the modern society, an artistic hijack used in order to draw attention to / capitalize on children’s sufferings, a border-breaching endeavor, and recently, an anticlerical practice.

Pokemon Go and Race Self-Awareness

I invite you to read my piece.

Pokemon Go and Mass Media Usage of Children’s Suffering

“Syrian graphic designer Saif Aldeen Tahhan has also used Pokémon Go to highlight the devastation in the country.

He created images — each carrying a ‘Syria Go’ logo — to show the impact of the war on the Syrian people over the last five years.

“I created these images as a way to turn attention to the Syrian war, and to focus on Syrian suffering instead of Pokémon, which people are crazy about,” he explained.” (Molloy, 2016).

Pokemon Go and Border-Breaching

I read two young man crossed a border chasing a pokemon, which hints that Pokemon Go was invented to breach state borders. It’s a modern space game (not the first of them). We mustn’t forget that eventually borders will be obliterated.

Among predecessors of Pokemon Go I’d name creating pictures in the canvas of urban space using GPS-navigator; have you seen those? Phalli were most widespread to draw.

Pokemon Go and Anticlericalism in Russia

Pokemon Go quickly went out of fashion but before that a scandal erupted in the Orthodox Church in Russia, and a trial over a man who was catching pokemons in a church is about to unfold, with church officials officially refusing to plead on his behalf and ask for mercy.

As someone who attended closely to a memorable punk band Pussy Riot performance and a trial, I would point out on the stylistic and aesthetic correlations between the performance videorecorded by Alekhina and Tolokonnikova (leaders of Pussy Riot) and a video made by “pokemon-hunter” Ruslan Sokolovsky.


References (Incomplete)

Mark Molloy “Syrian Children Hold Pokemon Photos Praying World Will Find Them.” Telegraph. 21 July, 2016. [retrieved 7/22/2016]

Conversationalists Vs Interactionists

I do not want to join the camp of those (even if it’s a device-free camp) who proclaim that technology makes us less empathetic. Empathy takes on other forms, that might be true.

As a recent piece in New York Times by

“But we are resilient. The psychologist Yalda T. Uhls was the lead author on a 2014 study of children at a device-free outdoor camp. After five days without phones or tablets, these campers were able to read facial emotions and correctly identify the emotions of actors in videotaped scenes significantly better than a control group. What fostered these new empathic responses? They talked to one another. In conversation, things go best if you pay close attention and learn how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This is easier to do without your phone in hand. Conversation is the most human and humanizing thing that we do.”

In a video conversation with me, writer Colin Moerdyke in response to this debate, suggested that people sometimes want to concentrate on text, obliterating distracting visual information that dilutes you during a face-to-face conversation.

I noticed that people of younger generations (20 years old vs 30 years old), as well as in more technologically advanced spaces (USA versus Russia, for instance), where the Wi-Fi / Internet accessibility etc. are ubiquitous, for instance, generally do prefer textual conversation to a call / video call / face-to-face interaction.

Maybe it brings less anxiety and puts them more in control of what is being said, and also gives time for consideration. Perhaps it would mean they are less skillful conversationalists in a face-to-face interactions, having trouble of reading emotions off of the faces of others, but suppose it makes them better analytical thinkers and enables them to construct mathematically precise word formulas. (Why not?)

The Only Poem Mentioning “Grant” in Existence

Preface of the Publisher (That is to Say, Me)

A while ago I had a project, called Poems by Famous Anthropologists They Were Unaware They Wrote. “Poems” consist of broken into lines passages from anthropologists’ works, which the authors themselves never had an intention–a wild idea–to break into lines.

Also recently, I got on Skype, which I do not do that often. And this is not a remarkable event worth mentioning by itself, but only in connection to the poem, which I found there to my amazement. This poem was written by my scientific advisor, Professor Campbell, during our conversation when for reasons of unstable internet-connection he could hear me but I could not hear him. Which made it a one-side communication poetry often is. The text is already broken into lines, and, although it was not intended as poetry, in this it shares the feature of many pieces of poetry. Even more, perhaps poetry written with an intention to write poetry is not poetry. And perhaps poetry is only poetry when it is written by chance and without intention. Without further ado, here is the piece (with the title I gave it):


Skype Poem

there are many
visual documents
on soviet ruins

a grant
I received to copy
many slides
this is a good idea
it seems to me a strong visual component would be good for this project.

your photographs
plus archival documents
it is important because of
a very strong contemporary record of ‘ruin porn’

this is your response.

Invention of the World

It might be not particularly important that there was a “day” assigned to opening of the world wide web, the 23rd of August, today. But what I suppose is interesting, is that WWW turns 25 (even if formally, it is worthy of being noticed).

Which makes it older than my students or my skillful conversationists on tumblr.

They do not remember, nor did they witness, the world without world network, of which we are magnificent spiders.

Governments, terroristic groups, artists, television, libraries — everything was to use the WWW.

25 is a young age even by humans’ measuring of time. We know little about how it affects us exactly but we know it does, and in a profound way.

We don’t know repercussions, we don’t know the future. But we can guess and we can dream.

It is exciting to see the WWW developing throughout the years. The invention of the WWW is but comparable with the world-wide implementation of book printing. The next such transformative invention is probably teleportation.

Sometimes we forget about the newness of this era. But then it reminds us.

A State of Belonging

An increasingly significant part of daily interactions is happening through people’s electronic, social bodies: on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, etc. It has long been noted that a persona one creates in writing is inevitably different from a “real person,” whatever this last creature should mean. The persona is a superimposition because of the nature of reflection, since estrangement embedded in writing and taking as well as posting pictures: once you completed a step, you are no longer the one who is stepping, and, by this very fact, perhaps never were. Nevertheless, social body which functions on the web is important and is a part of one’s social body outside of the web. A sense of belonging to the network is a sense of modern citizenship. In the twenty first century, the state would punish disobedient by excluding from social networks and throwing the perpetrator offline, thus virtually cutting her off her environment and, simultaneously, the very possibility of committing a misdeed.

An increasingly significant part of the individuality is involved online and expressed online, too. Sontag wrote that photography allows the photographer to demonstrate certain sensibilities. Now simple mechanisms of reblogging/sharing on Facebook/retweeting, in Twitter parlance, afford the same possibility of demonstrating, claiming and building one’s sensibilities through and by means of content one is concurrently consuming and reproducing. Self is lost and found in the overabundant multiplicity of channeled distractions.