Patreon: the Opportunity to Support Me and Gain Insight Into the Process

Recently, I decided to dust off my Patreon (if that’s the word I want), and had fun filling in the About page and writing two (one and a half, as I joke) updates there. If you follow my trajectory over the years, I am sure you will be interested to get in posession of the state of affairs. That’s what I wrote:

I am a socio-cultural anthropologist focused on the affective, or feeling-related side of mobility and immobility. I study how our deep-seated feelings, such as nostalgia, melancholy, and hope influence our decision to stay in a place–or go. My research question is, what keeps people stay put in a place despite the overwhelming economic hardships and failing infrastructure? If you think, lack of resources–sure, but this is only a part of the answer, and not that big of a part as you might assume. Personal factors play an important role. I devote my work to proving it through a set of evidence consisting of ethnographic data.

The things that I am reflecting on here, on Patreon, fall into several categories:

– the struggle of my scientific writing;

– academia;

– the content of my work, which is the questions of mobility, (im)mobility, vulnerability, poverty, affect, nostalgia, melancholy, hope, and nonchalance.

I will post here the new renditions of my work, and the comments are always welcome. I am seeking to make sure that what I am doing is resonating with the world. Ideally, this space would become a peer-review space where I can bounce off my ideas of other people.

I enjoy my academic journey; I hit a lot of milestones as they came: I was able to put together panels at big conferences such as American Anthropological Association and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies; I applied to and got numerous grants and can teach people how to write a successful grant application; and I taught courses like Expressive Culture and led seminars in socio-cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and visual anthropology: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Culture and Communication, and The Photographic Image.

The struggle of the writing of the dissertation and articles that accompany it is a difficult one, even for me, despite that I love writing, and I am able to produce great volumes of text. I’ve read plenty of books on how to facilitate the process of writing, and I am going to share resources here on Patreon as we go along.

I fully intend to transform the text of my dissertation into a book; right now, my work is titled Cities of the Future: Landscapes of Nostalgia and Hope in Post-Industrial Eastern Siberia.

Patreon is a semi-private space that I am creating for myself and those people who might want to join me on this travel of writing this book and solving its main question.

I first thought about Siberia as a rich ground of exploration in 2008, shortly before I got pregnant with my one and only child. In the neighborhood library in Moscow, my home town, I began writing a novel based on Siberian material and immersed myself into Kolchak’s story, the mythology of the lost gold of the Russian crown, and many intricate tensions between the Red and the White sides of the Russian Civil War. As we know only all too well, the Bolsheviks had an upper hand. Twenty plus years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Siberian spaces continue their development as a multiplicity of cultures, Russionized but also preserving national colors, textures, and forms.

Read more here:

116th American Anthropological Association Meeting in Washington, D.C.

This year’s anthropological meeting was productive; I like big gatherings; usually, I receive there notes and feedbacks that I am able to incorporate in my work because they are dense, to the point, and affirmative. Anthropology and science in general, particularly social science, but also its humanitarian incarnation, the socio-cultural anthropology, tend to come to any fruition (if they do) as collaborative processes, despite their continual stressing of the role of the author. We’re still privileging the singular, sole author, as opposed to some other branches of anthropology that are more explicit in doing things collaboratively–the socio-cultural anthropology is no exception; it is also a 100% collaborative process.

I participated in the 116th AAA with two projects that are linked in ways more numerous that I will be able to articulate in this quick blog post. It will suffice to say for the time being that they should end up as parts of my dissertation. Both these projects emerge out of my Siberian explorations; my interests in the phenomenological side of the materialities of the world; my suspicion that such materialities are mutable and multiple; and also from my interest in people and from me asking and re-asking the questions: How do I tell stories? How do I convey things I saw? How do I transport this audience, this group of people, this listener, this reader, into my own world, which incidentally, at least in part, is an unequivocally Siberian world?

My first presentation came out of the episode which I had been hoping to run in a group of anthropologists for a while. I wrote it down almost entirely right after these episodes had transpired. Yet it took me two years to work through some theory pertaining to that day, to two episodes / two encounters. The theory is there to make it all make sense, as it were.

The piece is about a never-completed architectural project, the Palace of Pioneers in Bratsk, and fantasies and ideas unfolding around it and in proximity to it. Two years is not the end of thinking about one day; this piece continues to be a work in process.

The piece is titled In Proximity of Ruins: Haunted Space and the Mutant Fantasy.

Here is the link to an MP3 recording of the presentation.

(The first one minute and a half of the recording is a lovely murmur of papers and a little bit of commotion; I considered cutting this part but then decided to leave it as is for the sake of a sensorial affect of presence).

The panel where I gave this presentation, is the result of a much-cherished friendship of mine–of an intellectual partnership, a connection between my colleague, the anthropologist Rick Smith and me. The panel was titled Summoning the Past: Contestations of Matter, Space, and Time in the Reproduction of State Power. The concentration on summoning, bringing together matter, space, and time, all in a focus of how the state uses these parameters of the “reality” in view of the reproduction of state power, had allowed us to bring together scholars from different, sometimes perceived as far-flung, wings of the discipline. I find such get-togethers particularly generative in terms of ideas and in terms of acquiring the new angles on the same matters.

We were extremely lucky to have Doctor Eben Kirksey, whose presence as a discussant on our panel was very welcome. Dr. Kirksey was extremely generous in providing the much-needed feedback.

It was an honor to present alongside with Rick Smith, Magdalena Stawkowski (whose work I use in my piece), Mary J Weismantel, and also to have Joanna Radin on our panel, who regretfully could not grace us with her physical presence, but whose amazing presentation Dr. Kirksey delivered himself. I am looking forward to seeing, reading, learning always more about, as well as celebrating the works, of all the participants on our panel.


Craig Campbell took this snapshot, a photographic evidence of the (already) past. In the picture: Dr. Rick Smith and I

My second presentation at AAA 2017 was titled Life and Death in a Siberian Village, and this is one of my favorite projects.

Here is a link to an MP3 recording of this presentation.

I will not upload the visual component of this presentation as I am going to convert it into a photo essay.

This is a project of handwriting that my scientific advisor, anthropologist Craig Campbell, prompted and encouraged me to do.

The curatorial collective Writing With Light put together a two-part roundtable. A diverse group of artists, photographers, visual and multimedia scholars, and anthropologists presented their projects where text and photography, sound and image, language and… language–come together to generate a bunch of different, often complex and ripe with tensions, relationships. It is with great interest that I observed the photo-essays in progress by participants of the roundtable.

I am grateful to Kate Schneider and Camilo Leon-Quijano for their insightful comments on my essay.

Anthropology and Poetry: Different Languages (Or Not)

Here is a recording of my lecture “Anthropology and Poetry: Different Languages (Or Not)” read for the course Culture and Communication at the University of Texas at Austin 9/28/2017. I listened to some of it; I promise, it is fun.

I will upload the text (which is slightly different from the talk) a bit later to this very same blog post; watch this space. UPD: Here it is, 10/2/2017: the text of my talk on I still think to listen to the talk is more fun, but as matters go in all writing-related fields, what is unwritten, does not exist (see Derrida for the elaboration).


For my other recordings, please visit my page on SoundCloud. I am over the limit there though; to upload more, I must convert into a customer, and I am not ready for such a decisive step. I will upload my recordings here (I have one so far), all gathered under the title “Presentations and Talks.” Enjoy.

The Human in People-Altered Landscapes

Talk at “The Extra-Human” 13th Annual Graduate Conference in Comparative Literature, September, 25th, 2016; University of Texas in Austin