Université de Strasbourg

Dina Khapaeva


Dina Khapaeva

Dina Khapaeva is a professor at the School of Modern Languages, Georgia Institute of Technology (United States). During her USIAS Fellowship, she will be hosted by Professor Emilia Koustova within the University of Strasbourg’s research group on Oriental, Slavonic and Modern Greek Studies (GEO).

Her recent books include Crimes sans châtiment : Aux sources du poutinisme (Éditions de l’Aube, 2023, trans. Nina Kehayan), The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture (The University of Michigan Press, 2018, translated into Russian as Занимательная смерть: развлечения эпохи постгуманизма, Новое литературное обозрение, 2020), and a collective volume, Man-eating Monsters: Human Exceptionalism in Popular Culture, ed. Dina Khapaeva (Emerald Publishing, 2020).

Her articles on post-Soviet memory have appeared in The New German Critique, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Social Research, Annales, Social Sciences Information, The South Atlantic Quarterly, Russian Literature, The New Literary Observer, The Atlantic, Le Débat, Merkur, Libération, Project Syndicate, Novaya Gazeta, Meduza, and Radio Liberty, among other media.

Dr. Khapaeva’s works have been reviewed in Cultural Critique, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Journal of Books, Slavic Review, Slavic and East European Journal, The Russian Review, The Slavonic and East European Review, Mortality, The Journal of Russian Communications, The New Literary Observer, and The Polish Review, among others.

Dina Khapaeva received an invited professorship at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS, Paris, France, 2016) and several fellowships, including at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (University of Helsinki, Finland, 2009–2012). She serves on the Advisory Board for the book series Russian History and Culture (Brill Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands).

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Project summary


The project examines critical trends in post-Soviet politics of memory – re-Stalinization and political neomedievalism, namely, the fascination with a fantasized Middle Ages that is increasingly widespread in Russia and globally. Political neomedievalism reduces the Middle Ages to anti-democratic creeds and encouraged admiration for the new “Dark Age.” The project studies the Kremlin’s celebration of the two main instances of state terror in Russian history – Ivan the Terrible’s oprichnina and Stalinism – and the attempts to promote their positive images in post-Soviet popular culture. While the Kremlin’s propaganda of World War II for militarizing Russia is well documented, the role of political neomedievalism – the glorification of Russian medieval society and its warlords – in rallying Russians to support Putinism has yet to be explored.

The methodological inspiration of this project is to demonstrate that popular culture constitutes a valuable source for scrutinizing the functioning of artificial historical memory and the mechanisms of its transmission. The project argues for the existence of a new memory regime - the memory of the perpetrators - and examines how its expansion in Russia may be linked to the global rise of right-wing authoritarian populism.

This project attempts to conceptualize the new field - Studies in Russian Neomedievalism. The first systematic comparison of neomedievalism and much better-studied re-Stalinization allows for understanding how Putin’s politics of memory has generated a historical framework within which the dictatorship can be legitimized. Previous research has largely neglected the Kremlin’s long-term strategy of historical manipulation. The dissection of Putinism is vital because, around the world, the crisis of democracy concurs with the rise of neomedieval politics of memory.

The project will build a database of Russian movies and TV series from 2000 through 2022 that depict Stalinism and the oprichnina. Examining the circumstances of their production, content, and historical accuracy will help explain the inner workings of Putin’s propaganda machine and its uses of celebrity culture to advance the imperial agenda.

Establishing long-term partnerships with colleagues from the University of Strasbourg and organizing a workshop, “New Approaches to Neomedievalism and Popular Culture,” with an objective to publish a collective volume, represents another ambition of this project.

Fellowship 2023

Dates - 01/12/2023-30/04/2024

France 2030