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Passau in the online Encyclopedia Britannica

This month the Future of Russian core team and its active partners crossed borders in more than one respect. From February 3 to 6 they gathered, together with eight invitees, in Germany for the third Future of Russian conference. “The Russian Internet in a Global Context,” as F3 was called, was a truly transnational endeavor: presenters scrutinized new-media developments in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, but also Kazakhstan, the US, and Scandinavia. They did so at the more than aptly located city of Passau. This lovely town lies so close to the Czech and Austrian borders that even mobile phone providers were at a loss: should they welcome their traveling owners to Germany or to Austria? Read the rest of this entry »

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2010 has been a busy year for the Future of Russian project, with a particularly high number of FoR panels and individual papers at conferences all over the world – Los Angeles, Cambridge, Stockholm, Minsk, Moscow, Tampere, Seoul, Edinburgh.

In Bergen, Gasan Gusejnov and Vera Zvereva were of great inspiration to the core group during their guest research stays in April and May-June. They participated in seminars and gave several talks during their stay, and we have also had guest lecturing visits by Vladimir PlungjanVictor Sonkin, and Boris Orekhov, in addition to a presentation by Galina Timchenko and Artem Efimov (Lenta.ru) of their online dictionary project.

Dirk Uffelmann has organized a Future of Russian course in Passau, with the participation of Michael Gorham and Gasan Gusejnov – we hope to see a few of this course’s students at our February meeting in Passau.

A selection of F2 papers are being prepared for publication, and I hope to have some news about our proposal for a special issue of [a leading international journal] in February.

As for new plans and initiatives, we will be publishing a biannual newsletter starting this January. Ellen Rutten will be in charge of that. Also, we’ve just sent out a first Call for Papers for a conference in St Petersburg 19-22 October this year (“Virtual Russia: Digital Space and Post-Soviet Political Culture”), in co-operation with Helge Blakkisrud of the Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs as well as with the Bergen-based project Web Wars, led by Ellen. I do hope that many Futurants will be able to take part!

The FoR site’s section “Futurants in the Media” has not been updated for a while, but will be soon.

As a Landslide-cum-Future spin-off project, Martin Paulsen, Sasha Berdichevsky and I have, together with a few colleagues from the Spanish department, developed a course to be offered at this year’s international PhD summer school at UiB. The course is called “Norms and Language” – please help spreading the word to potential candidates (PhD students of all countries).

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2010 has also been a sad year. It is still unbelievable that Daniela Hristova, active partner of both the Landslide of the Norm and the Future of Russian projects is no longer among us, and her scholarly enthusiasm and cheerful spirit will be sorely missed when we meet again in Passau in a month’s time, for the third FoR conference.

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A Happy New Year 2011 to all FoR partners and supporters.

Although the Future of Russian team had to miss some delegates at the AAASS 2009 conference, it was a more than fruitful event for the project, I would say. Next to panel sessions, the project group activities included a meet-and-greet with scholars from Columbia University’s New Modes of Communication project. They pointed our attention to their upcoming conference, which some of us – or other readers of this blog – may want to visit. The Etiology and Ecology of Post-Soviet Communication is hosted in May 2010 by Columbia’s Harriman Institute. The organizers – Eugene Gorny, Florian Toepfl, Catharine Nepomnyashchy, Alan Timberlake, and Guobin Yang – welcome panels on:

“the emergence and evolution of social networks; patterns of interlinking; the phenomenon of social contagion in online communications; political clustering in the blogosphere and beyond; public versus private identities; doublethink, cynicism, coded language; the emergence of opinion leaders in the blogosphere; freedom of the press on the internet; forms and degrees of censorship, online activism/social movements on the internet; dissenters and political activism; democracy to autocracy in the Russian internet.”

One-page abstracts can be sent to nmc.conference@gmail.com by February 1, 2010. For those who can’t make it: the conference culminates a one-year project which has its own wiki site. Worth a visit, not only for the contents proper, but also as a sample of a new type of scholarly platform — one which utilizes cutting-edge digital research tools to facilitate, among other online services, internal communication and a collective virtual biography. Next year, the site may include podcasts of the May conference presentations – or so Eugene Gorny and Florian Toepfl suggested during our meeting.