Monthly Archives: February 2015

“Work in progress. Performing the state in Central Asia”

I will give a lecture at the Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca on May 12th, 2.30 pm.

The topic is based on a co-edited volume I did with Madeleine Reeves and Johan Rasanayagam called “Ethnographies of the state in Central Asia. Performing politics.” (2014. Indiana University Press).


The seminar is organized by Antonio De Lauri.

Here’s the link to the programme: seminario stato 2015



Call for Papers: European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS)

Central Asia in the XXI Century: Historical trajectories, contemporary challenges and everyday encounters

Call for pre-organized panels and papers

The European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS) invites proposals for individual papers, panels and roundtable discussions for the fourteenth ESCAS biennial conference scheduled for 8th -11th October 2015 at the Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland. The Conference will be organized by the Halle-Zurich Centre for the Anthropological Study of Central Asia (CASCA).

ESCAS welcomes proposals relating to all aspects of research in the arts, humanities and social sciences on Central Asia – namely the republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, together with Xinjiang, Mongolia, Afghanistan and adjacent regions of Russia, China, Iran, South Asia and the Caucasus.

Scholars and practitioners of anthropology, archaeology, architecture, art & art history, cinema, development studies, economics & finance, history, musicology, philology, political science, sociology and other related disciplines are encouraged to participate. We particularly welcome panel proposals which will cross disciplinary boundaries, bringing together experts from different fields.

The theme of the 2015 conference is “Central Asia in the XXI Century: Historical trajectories, contemporary challenges and everyday encounters“.

More information, including where to submit your pre-organized panels or papers here.

I will be speaking about “Anthropology between book and blog. Evaluation criteria and communication in academia”

19 February, 2015 10 am – 1 pm

Organizers: Allegra Lab Association (Helsinki/Berlin) & The Finnish Institute,

Berlin Georgenstr. 24 (1. OG) 10117 Berlin



“Russian and Polar Bears Unite! A Follow-Up.”

What is 19cm high, 20cm wide, weighs only 680grams but carries a President? Right – it’s the Russian Bear!

And what is flying high into the sky? Right – the Bear, too. There is nothing he can’t do – the Bear, I mean. While everyone has been concentrating on Putin, it is the bear that should interest us; that magical, charismatic hero of Russian folk tales, easily fooled by political rhetoric. It is him who is carrying the President on his back across the country (literally, if you look at the statue carefully), and who is now taking him up into the sky in the recent pictogram of Khabarovsk Airport, in Southeast Russia, close to the China border.


What is next? The moon? Oh no, been there, done that, too.

He seems increasingly, desperate, though. The Bear, not Putin. Some memes pictured him crashed, lying in a state-sponsored, vodka-induced coma.




But someone recently had a useful suggestion: Sarah Palin, ex-Governor of Alaska, who, allegedly, said “you can see Russia from my house.” She has had a longstanding, complicated relationship with bears herself, summarized by The Guardian in 2008 into the question “Sarah Palin vs The Polar Bear – who will survive? It’s 2015 now and both Sarah Palin and polar bears have become more endangered, but she is still “seriously interested” in running for President next year. She recently called up her fellow-countrymen to rise up against an overarching American state, shouting: “‘The Man,’ can only ride ya when your back is bent. So strengthen it. Then ‘The Man’ can’t ride ya.”

I think the Russian Bear should take this exhortation seriously, throw that naked President off his back, form an alliance with the Polar Bear and chase both Putin and Palin all around Little Diomede Island.


The Diomede Islands, Big and Little, in the Bering Strait.


Note: originally published on 03 February, 2015 here: The Bear in Space-pictures are taken from Mikhailov, B. 1973. “How the Bear flew into Space”. Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR. (Б. Михайлов “Как медведь в космос летал” Изд. “Художник РСФСР”. Ленинград 1973).