Einstein’s Challenge

What happens when a scholar of memory faces her own past?


Return of the Names 2014

For eight years now, Russia’s oldest and arguably most noble human rights group, Memorial, has been organizing an annual commemoration event for victims of the Great Terror. The ceremony, called Return of the Names, takes place every year on October 29.

Russian Sketch 2

Bus number 7 was taking its time. I stood on a bus stop on Shkiperskii Protok, watching the sky for signs of rain, on my way to the Hermitage for a BBC World Service recording. An elderly lady in a purple beret stood nearby, counting change in her hand.

Beyond Regime: Soviet Cartoons

Those of us whose childhoods coincided (partially or fully) with Soviet times were shaped to various degrees by the little masterpieces that served as the country’s children’s cartoons. These remarkable animations, it seems to me, absorbed much of the kindness and thoughtfulness of the people who lived in those times.

In memory of Yanka

Last month, the municipal authorities of the city of Novosibirsk refused to grant permission for a memorial plaque to Yana (Yanka) Dyagileva.

Yanka (Russian: Янка) was one of the best-known representatives of the Siberian underground rock scene. She was born in 1966 and drowned in a river in 1991, a few months before her 25th birthday.

Vladimir Bukovsky

On the day of the passing of Grigory Pomerants, together with a small group of colleagues, I spent an evening with Vladimir Bukovsky, one of the prominent representatives of the Soviet Union’s dissident movement.

In memory of Grigory Pomerants

It was with much sadness that I learned about the passing of Grigory Pomerants (Григорий Померанц) in Moscow this past weekend. On the evening he died, as it turns out, I sat at a friend’s kitchen table and admired this extraordinary man’s 1990 collection “Открытость бездне” [Openness to the Abyss]. What a strange coincidence. 

Memory and Theory Conference

July’s first week was thoroughly conference-themed. It all started on Monday with a two-day conference entitled Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe, taking place at King’s College, Cambridge. This specialized event attracted some serious heavy-weights of memory theory, as well as a whole set of experts who work in memory studies.

On Linear Equality

I’ve been thinking of another thing Alexey Korotaev mentioned last month: the difference between society of equality and society of the equal – общество равенстваи общество равных. This may sound like an obvious thing, but to me, it offered a helpful framework for approaching certain concepts.

A New Year’s Wish

In my college – one of 31 colleges in the University of Cambridge – we have a beautiful Graduate Suite. Accessible only to grad students, it used to house E.M.Forster, and still sports a black-and-white photograph of this famous writer sitting in one of its rooms.