I am Associate Professor of Literary & Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and affiliated with the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). My research interests are diverse, and revolve around the multifaceted question of how (popular) culture imagines and confronts ‘the past’. I focus primarily on the countries of the former socialist world, and on Russia in particular. In my monograph Post-Soviet Literature and the Search for a Russian Identity (Palgrave Macmillan 2016), I analyzed literary narratives of cultural trauma from the 1990s, and explored their contrasts and entanglements with emerging stories of wished-for national and imperial revival in the early Putin-era. More recently, I have begun to delve into the slippery phenomenon of nostalgia, both in Russia and beyond. Together with Ksenia Robbe (University of Groningen) and Otto Boele (Leiden University) I have co-edited a volume on cultural expressions of (counter-)nostalgia in the ex-Soviet republics (Post-Soviet Nostalgia: Confronting the Empire’s Legacies, Routledge 2019).
In 2021 I started my ERC-funded research project CONSPIRATORIAL MEMORY: Cultures of Suspicion in Post-Socialist Europe (2021-2026). Here I combine my fascination with memory and temporality with my deep curiosity for conspiracy culture. Together with my team I explore prominent conspiracy stories in Central and East European literature, film, television, commemorative rituals and online culture. The project aims to take the emerging field of conspiracy theory studies to a new level. While academic inquiry into conspiracy theory is unquestionably on the rise, existing research is still overwhelmingly concentrated on Western Europe and the United States. Established perspectives also tend to treat conspiracy culture in historical and cultural isolation, neglecting its reliance on earlier events and narrative templates, and often overlooking its cross-cultural dynamics. Yet conspiracy theories never develop in a vacuum, and the project investigates their movements and exchanges, both contemporary and historical. CONSPIRATORIAL MEMORY thus illuminates the historical references, transnational interactions, and online circulations that give conspiracy theories their rhetorical and emotional momentum in the post-socialist era. Relying on a theoretical framework that enriches conspiracy research with affect studies and cultural memory studies, the project zooms in on a selection of recent conspiracy-based cultural imaginations from Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The project also addresses the parallels between the analyzed cases and conspiracy culture from Western Europe and the United States.