Blog

On Russia's formal claim to territories it knew it wouldn't control

[Originally posted to the Fediverse - Source] One of the “big decisions” that looks puzzling in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is why did Putin decide to declare Russian sovereignty over more parts of Ukraine (Kherson and Zaporizhzhia) not when he could still hope to actually conquer them, but at a point in time when it was already evident that the Russian army could not plausibly cling to what it had, much less gain new ground.

"Water has no border", even along the Inguri - A documentary (brief review)

“Water has no border” - a 2021 documentary by Maradia Tsaava. See trailer and synopsis. Seen at the Trento Film Festival in May 2022. Crossing the de facto border (also known as administrative boundary line) between Abkhazia and Samegrelo is not so easy - unless you are water, or you work with water: employees working on the hydroelectric powerplant cross the border routinely. “The other side” is just a few hundreds meters away at most throughout the film, and yet, seemingly unreachable for the film’s protagonist (Maradia) and her crew.

The tech model and the communal model

I have recently been involved in a number of conversations on internet regulation, content moderation, and such. I often have the feeling that there is some expectation that there is a solution, and that once that is implemented, things will be solved. As people, for example, advocate for interoperability (as I do), then there is some expectation that “interoperability” will “solve” fundamental issues about the digital public sphere. There is a an expectation that there is a technological or political solution that will solve the problem once and for all.

Building a digital archive for the preservation of local memories (with Omeka S), at the intersection of public history and digital history

This post outlines some of the practicalities and the many choices involved in setting up a digital archive for the preservation of the memories and lived experiences of residents of a community in the Alps (Valle dei Laghi, Trentino, Italy). Parts of this post will be particularly relevant to readers interested in the specific platform we are using for our archive (Omeka S), but most of it should be of some interest to anybody considering setting up a digital archive, in particular those doing so outside of established archival institutions.

Reading about James Anderson and the Chinese Maritime Customs

James Anderson was an officer in the Chinese Maritime Customs through the 1920s and 1930s, and part of the large contingent of international officers staffing this service. He was also the father of Benedict Anderson (of “Imagined communities” fame) and Perry Anderson (historian, for many years editor of the “New Left Review”, and author among other things of interesting books on Gramsci). Perry wrote two essays (about 15.000 words in total) on his belated encounter with his father, of whom he knew very little, through written records.

Lessons (?) on democracy from ancient Athens

I happened to read recently this review of a book on democracy in ancient Athens and the class of civil servants that used to run it. As I read it, I felt an urge to draw some sort of lesson… without being able to find them. Anyway, here are the two parts of that article that drew my attention. 1. Cleisthenes is the ancient Athenian leader who “extended the vote to the landless masses”, which is basically the main reason why Athenian democracy is celebrated to this day.

How I got to study some of things I study, and personal reasons that partly explain why I studied them the way I did

My PhD thesis – What is the effect of non-recognition? The external relations of de facto states in the post-Soviet space – is freely available for download on Dublin City University’s institutional website. This is a brief excerpt from the thesis. For more details about my research, see also the post “ Non-recognition is the symptom, not the cause". The object of research, as well as the methodological approach used to study it, are often determined by personal experience.

Journals focused on post-Soviet, post-Communist and Eastern European affairs

It requires a big effort to stay up-to-date with academic publications in one’s sphere of interest. I put together this post to make it easier to have at least a quick overview of what has been published recently in English-language peer-reviewed journals for those with an interest in post-Soviet, post-Communist and Eastern European affairs. First, there’s a list of the journals I think are most relevant for scholars focusing on this region, in no particular order (if you think I am missing something important, please let me know).

Russia 2014 as imagined in 2004

In 2004, the Carnegie Moscow Center published a book titled “Russia: the next ten years” (Kuchins and Trenin, 2004). In the introduction, Kuchins makes clear that the aim of the publication is not “to predict” what would happen in the following ten years but rather “to elucidate the context for critical choices for Russian policymakers and the Russian people” (p. 10). However, many of the contributors tried to picture the Russia of 2014, often presenting both a more optimistic and a more pessimistic scenario.

“Seliger’s many faces”, my feature from the International Youth Forum Seliger 2010

My feature about the International Youth Forum Seliger 2010 is now online on balcanicaucaso.org (available in Italian here). You can find some pictures there or on my Flickr page. I already shared some considerations on my way back from the forum in a previous post… And here’s another recent article about youth policies in Russia as a whole and in the Northern Caucasus in particular, that makes reference to Seliger.