The subject matter of the course is Russian space. The course deals with its structure, topology, history, modes of appropriation and governance. It problematizes the idea of space as a key to understanding politics and governance of Russia, as well as national economy, society and culture.
The course begins with exploring the phenomenology of Russian space: its structure, topology and specific features, including notions of “enormity”. It then proceeds to explore Russian space in its relation to state power. It examines the ways in which geography shaped Russian history and politics. The enormous space has largely determined the format of Russian statehood; indeed, governance in Russia is largely about the relation between space and the state. The space-state relationship is reified on various levels: economy, politics and administration, security and social mobility, nationalism and imperialism, culture and language, habits and ways. The course looks into each of these levels, discovering specific ways of interaction between the space and the state.
The principal methodology is critical political science. It is understood as an overarching discipline, looking for “political” in various aspects of state-space relations. Indeed, the course is an interdisciplinary exercise, drawing on theories of political geography, political economy, political science and international relations, as well as methods of cultural anthropology, semiotics and psychoanalysis.
The course is structured around lectures and seminars, with a large impact on independent work and class discussion. Each student is supposed to make a presentation in class and to write an essay.