A virtual discussion hosted by the Central Asia Program at the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the George Washington University on May 5, 2021.
The nomination of Manizha Sangin, a Russian singer of Tajik origin, as Russia’s representative in the Eurovision Song Contest seems to have come as a surprise to everyone. On the one hand, conservative segments of Russian society are trying to mobilize, condemning Manizha as an insult to the image of a Russian woman. On the other hand, this decision has contributed to the solidarity of new social and cultural agents advocating the value of diversity and the freedom of self-identification in Russia. In his presentation, Mark Simon will discuss why Manizha’s performance has been perceived by a significant part of the Russian public as a violation of the canon of representing “Russianness.” Whom does Manizha herself seek to represent in her public activities? Can it be argued that the singer’s stage image meets the demand for public visibility emanating from migrant communities in Russia? What is the new discourse of diversity in Russia and which social actors are transmitting this discourse in the public sphere?
Mark Simon is a leading research fellow at the Centre for Political Theory and Applied Political Science of the Russian Academy of National Economy (RANEPA) and an assistant professor at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (MSSES). In recent years, he has been studying the artistic practices of migrants in European countries and in Russia. He has written such articles as “The Oeuvre of Migrants as a Problem of the Sociology of Culture: Newcomers from Tajikistan in Russia” [Neprikosnovenniy zapas 119(3), co-authored by Vladimir Malakhov and Saodat Olimova], “Staging Urban Diversity: Migrants on Theatrical Stages in Berlin and Moscow” [Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research 12(1)], “Soviet in Form, National in Content: Central Asian Migrants in the Cultural Infrastructure of Moscow” [The Journal of Social Policy Studies 18(4)].
Marlene Laruelle, Moderator
Marlene Laruelle, Ph.D., is Director, Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies; Director, Central Asia Program; Director, Illiberalism Studies Program; Co-Director, PONARS-Eurasia; and Research Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University. She works on political, social and cultural changes in the post-Soviet space. Marlene’s research explores the transformations of nationalist and conservative ideologies in Russia, nationhood construction in Central Asia, as well as the development of Russia’s Arctic regions.