Lezing 'SEELECTS#4: The creative explosion of Russian protest language in Moscow (2011-2012)'

For whom
students, employees, alumni, press, business, secondary teachers
23-02-2017 from 18:00 to 20:45
Campus Boekentoren, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent
vakgroep talen en culturen - Slavistiek en Oost-Europakunde
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The presentation sheds light on the political “White Ribbon” (Белая лента) protest rallies in Moscow which took place 5 years ago and became part of contemporary Russian history. The oppositional movement generated a dynamic outburst of creativity expressed in various forms of protest language in the broadest sense. Slogans with or without caricatures, rhymes, metaphors, Internet-memes, as well as material objects, such as the white ribbons themselves, badges, masks and costumes, flowers, balloons and toys, etc. had clear communicative messages and were aimed at making the government see and listen to the protesters’ demands. The expressive means of Russian protest language included puns with the personal names of officials and the name of the country (Russia was shown as Pussia, alluding to the Pussy Riot case), figurative phrases, quotations and quasi-quotations of Russian and world classical literature, folklore, movies and cartoons. Many of protest vocabulary entries lived a very short life, being a hasty response to a new governmental regulation, a comment or a statement made by political leaders. Some of the phrases have, however, remained in the language and gained a resonant axiological depth in public and political discourse.
In conclusion, the major characteristics of the Russian oppositional marches are put into the global political context and some parallels with the Bulgarian rallies are drawn. The development and modification of the Russian protest language after the banning of the marches in the people’s commemoration of Boris Nemtsov after his tragic death in 2015 on the bridge near the Kremlin, and local protests against the extraction of timber for commercial construction, etc., are outlined in brief.
The richness of the protest language and the symbolic usage of time and festivals, space (the White Circle in Moscow) and toponyms (Bolotnaia Square), color, gestures, dynamics / statics typical for Moscow political rallies is illustrated by pictures from the personal archive collected over 15 Moscow protest marches during 2011-2012.

dr. Irina Sedakova - Doctor of Philology (Slavic languages), PhD - Leading research fellow (Institute for Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences)