Presence of a man on a balcony

Presence Without Identification: Creating Postcolonial Archives after Communism

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
6:00 pm
Irvin Hall 040

Using photographic projects of the Minsk School of Photography as the main source, the talk explores how Belarusian photographers re-appropriated visual conventions of the Soviet official portraiture to produce a postcolonial archive of ready-made images. Blurring the distinction between appearance and substance, they presented subjectivity as a vocabulary of poses and costumes which could deliver their semantic effect even when the identity of the performer could never be established. This vicarious photography, the talk suggests, affords presence without identification. Its play with stereotypes offers a way of recycling visual formulas of the Soviet period, while, simultaneously, providing an expressive possibility for demarcating the authorial distancing from the contexts and contents that these formulas index.

To read a copy of his paper please click HERE.

Serguei Oushakine has conducted fieldwork in the Siberian part of Russia, as well as in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. His research is concerned with transitional processes and situations: from the formation of newly independent national cultures after the collapse of the Soviet Union to post-traumatic identities and hybrid cultural forms. His first book The Patriotism of Despair: Loss, Nation, and War in Russia focused on communities of loss and exchanges of sacrifices in provincial post-communist Russia. His current project explores Eurasian postcoloniality as a means of affective reformatting of the past and as a form of retroactive victimhood.Oushakine’s Russian-language publications include edited volumes on trauma, family, gender and masculinity. Prof. Oushakine is Director of the Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies at Princeton.

Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, and the Humanities Center.

Serguei Oushakine
Serguei Oushakine
Director, Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, Princeton University