12 Jan 2024 · 3.00 pm

The Dissident Library: “Weapons of the Weak” in the USSR and Russia: from 1953 to 2023

Venue: online via Zoom
Organized by Olga Rosenblum
Research project(s): Soviet Dissidence and the Public

The next seminar of The Dissident Library will focus on forms of protest in the USSR and Russia and dissident protest in the context of other forms of protest. Anthropologist Alexandra Arkhipova (Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale EHESS, Paris) will talk about her and her colleagues’ work on forms of direct and anonymous resistance. She will compare forms of anonymous resistance in Russia, for which she uses the metaphor of “chips in the pocket,” with forms of resistance as described by the American anthropologist James Scott. Scott applies the concept of “Weapons of the Weak” to forms of resistance such as rumors, anecdotes, songs, and carnival texts that are used in situations in which people are unable to protest directly, when they resort to ridiculing groups of “strong” people to reduce the personal risk of persecution. Drawing on the collection of documents Kramola: Dissent in the USSR under Khrushchev and Brezhnev, 1953–1982, compiled by Vladimir Kozlov and Olga Edelman, Akhipova proposes to discuss the possibility of applying James Scott’s concept of “Weapons of the Weak” and Umberto Eco’s “Semiotic Guerrillas” to forms of protest in the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s. To get an impression of forms of protest today, we suggest you visit the virtual exhibition No Wobble which was prepared by Arkhipova.

  • Vladimir Kozlov, Olga Edelman (eds.): Kramola: Inakomyslije v SSSR pri Khruschove i Brezhnewe: 1953–1982. Moscow: rassekrechennyje dokumenty Verchovnogo suda i Prokuratury SSSR 2005
  • James Scott: Domination and the Arts of Resistance. Yale: Hidden Transcripts 1992
  • Umberto Eco: Towards a semiological guerrilla warfare, in: Umberto Eco (ed.): Travels in Hyperreality. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1986, 135–144
  • Alexandra Arkhipova, Anna Kirzyuk, Darya Radchenko, Alexey Titkov, Olga Christoforova: “Figa v karmane” i drugie teorii simvolicheskogo soprotivlenija, in: Alexandra Arkhipova, Darya Radchenko, Alexey Titkov (eds.): Gorodskie texty i praktiki. T. 1. Simvolicheskoje soprotivlenije: kollektivnaja monografija. Moscow: Izdatelstvo “Delo” 2016, 5–22
  • Alexandra Arkhipova: Net woble [No wobble / Нет вобле]. Russian anonymous street art against war 2022/23. A virtual exhibition

Languages of the discussion: Russian with simultaneous translation into English.

To join the seminar please register here.

The event is part of The Dissident Library, a series of online seminars discussing scientific publications on the Soviet dissident movement directed and organized by Olga Rosenblum.