I am Senior Lecturer in East European Studies, and I also teach in the Media Studies and History departments at UvA. Appointed under the Nieuwe Generatie Offensief programme that encourages interdisciplinary professional profiles, I have special teaching and research interests in Russian cultural studies, cultural history, historical media and new media cultures. I teach a variety of courses across three departments, with diverse disciplinary foci, including postcolonial autobiography, Soviet cultural history and media reception. In 2016, my Master's course in East European Studies, "Intimate Politics: Culture and Subjectivity in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia" won the Ondrwijsprijs or Teaching Excellence Prize in the Humanities.
I also co-edit the international, peer-reviewed journal Digital Icons: Studies in Russian, Eurasian and Central European New Media.
I was, previously, Research Affiliate with the Media Studies group at the Research Institute of History and Culture in the University of Utrecht, from 2008-13.
In Fall 2012, I was visiting faculty in the University of Leiden's inaugural Russian area studies programme, co-teaching a M.A course in Soviet cultural history.
I studied in the University of Bombay (India) and in Moscow (Russia), and received a PhD in Russian history in Indiana University, Bloomington, USA.
I have also worked as researcher in the International Institute for Social History (Amsterdam) and the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (Leiden). Additionally, I am now curator of the Prajnya Archives for the visual documentation of women in public life in South Asia.
I am a historian and cultural studies scholar working on Soviet and Russian popular culture. My current project is a study of the semiotic and affective journeys of Soviet objects outside Eastern Europe – books, gadgets, photographs and other such artefacts that made their way to India, Germany, Italy and Cuba. These forms of Soviet material culture may be commodities, gifts or souvenirs that have found their way into the lives of peopIe outside the east block. Why things? Because they have narratorial power, becoming invested with meanings, stories and values by the people who own and use them. Studying things and the stories people tell us about them reveals a great deal about the ways in which Soviet materialities and the ideology that underpinned that material culture influenced and were, in turn, transformed and modified in their journeys, and the significances they acquired in other cultures.
Drawing on interviews that focus on each subject and his/her relationship to the Soviet things in their possession, this project will eventually address questions such as the following: What were the boundaries of Soviet ideology and what were its material attributes outside the original context of articulation and production? What is their continued relevance or changed meaning in a so-called 'post-socialist' world? What has endured and what has been transformed in the way Soviet things are used, read and contextualised in an age of neoliberalism and globalisation?
In the recent past, I have also worked on media convergence or cross-medial cultures, trying to understand how the convergence of television, cinema and the internet (in particular) offers new spaces for everyday cultural-political habits. My earlier research interests in oral history and the history of Soviet culture and everyday life have also endured.
My doctoral work, a product of archival and ethnographic research in Russia, was an ethno-historical study of Indian cinema's reception in the post-Stalinist Soviet era, and the first such study of Soviet movie-going. It allowed me to combine oral histories with archival material, and was thus situated at the intersection of memory studies, audience studies, media ethnography and history. These findings have been published as Indian Films in Soviet Cinemas: the Culture of Movie-going after Stalin (IUP, Bloomington, 2010).
Interview/talk on Stalinist terror in Soviet and post-Soviet memory, followed by film screening, De Balie, October 23, 2017.
“Imagination and citizenship”, a talk on memory on Russian new media in the workshop Forum on post-Soviet culture, UvA, 2016
“Competing imaginaries on digital platforms in Russia” in the forum “Licht op Rusland. Russische digitale revolutie: vrijheid en isolatie, Organised with the Nederlands Instituut Petersburg (NIP). Spui 25, December 2016
“Inclusive Narratives: Participation and Plurality in Russian New Media”, at “The Future of Independent Russian media” forum, organised by the University of Amsterdam, Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken and Free Press Unlimited, April 2016.
'The performance of boredom: experiences on Russia's other new media', 'Bland, Boring, Banal' symposium, UvA, December 2015.
“Unspectacular politics: Television, internet and everyday political habits in Russia”, at the Past the “-Post”: Theorizing the Post-Post-Soviet via (New) Media and Popular Culture, UvA, June 2015.
'Affect in Soviet encounters with India: cinema, celebrity and emotion in international relations', International workshop on Soviet Encounters with India, RANEPA, Moscow, December 16-17, 2013.
'Shoppers and dupes: the TV audience in Russian discourses', International Communication Association annual conference, June 2013, London.
‘Cinema in an earlier time: sites of cultural memory on the Runet’, Roundtable participant at a conference on ‘Seeing Socialism(s) in Eastern Europe: Visual Cultures and the Writing of History,’ Centre for International Studies and Research, Paris, December 2012.
“Cultural Citizens , not Couch Potatoes: the participatory world of Russian online fandoms,” CEELBAS (Centre for East European Language-Based Area Studies) conference, University College London, June 2011.
“Hyperlinked: Shahrukh Khan’s celebrity in the affective spaces of Russian online fandom,” Department of Ethnology, University of Vienna, September 2010.
“Sartorial Citizens: the interactive web audience for Russian Makeover Television,” CEELBAS workshop “Deterritorialised Cultures,” Department of Slavonic Studies, University of Manchester, May 2010.
“Stars in their Eyes: Fandom and the making of Indian film celebrity in Soviet movie culture,” The Centre for Comparative Social Studies and the Institute for Culture & Values, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, February 2010.
“Not Just Spooky: the collaborative aesthetics of Supernatural Fandom on Runet (Russian-language internet),” School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, October 2009.
“Supernatural Fandom on Runet,” European Association for Social Anthropology (online seminar), November 2009.
“The Construction of Celebrity: Indian movie Stars in the Soviet Everyday”, CEELBAS, “Whose Culture?,” Department of Slavonic Studies, University of Sheffield, March 2008.
Manuscript peer-review for Slavic Review, Kritika: Explorations in Russian History, and New Media and Society.
"Intimate Politics: Culture and Subjectivity in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia" (winner of the Onderwijs Prijs or Teaching Excellence Prize in 2016 for best Master's Course in the Humanities at UvA)
"Russia: ordinary people, extraordinary practices." B.A Honours module at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, UvA.
"Russian pop culture: movies, TV and the internet" (B.A European Studies)
"The Other Europe" (B.A European Studies)
"Digital media analysis" (B.A Media Studies)
"Genre and the nation: national cinemas in America, Russia and India" (B.A Media and Culture Studies)
"Media audiences" (B.A thesis workgroup in Media Studies)
Kino: the poetics and politics of Russian cinema (B.A thesis workgroup in Media Studies)
"Childhood memories: the use of digital sources for history "(B.A research group in History)
"Post-colonialism and autobiography" (B.A Research group in History)
B.A and M.A theses supervision in East European Studies, History and Media Studies
Guest columns on Russia in The Wire, India's main digital platform for independent journalism (2017-).
Blog posts on Russian new media developments and related theoretical issues for Russian Cyberspace, (russ-cyberspace.livejournal.com), an academic blog on LiveJournal, 2008-10.
Writings on culture and development in various parts of the world, for Power of Culture (www.powerofculture.nl), formerly a Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken publication.
“Twitter as public sphere: A digital utopia?,” Sunday Guardian (New Delhi), January 2010.
Articles on colonial anthropology and material culture in Indonesia and Siberia, Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden, 2000-2002.