In my last post I shared my lacklustre story of how I stumbled upon my academic muse. Now it is time to advance my goals and elevate this blog to missionary work. Today I will be listing objective facts explaining why Russia is such a great subject to study. Hopefully I will convince many of you to peer over the Iron Curtain.
Alright, so maybe some of my “facts” will be more objective than others. Truth is less of a light switch and more of a spring loaded kitchen scale. Hell, my constructivist sympathies inform me that truths are little more than socially engineered phenomena, but now is not the place for naval gazing…
So at the very least I will try to be less subjective; here I will discuss why Russia is an interesting subject and why the study of Russia matters. Alright on second thought it is probably still extremely biased but you’re already invested (I hope) so just keep following me. You wouldn’t exit a roller coaster at the top would you? (Well if this is the apex of my blog post then I’ve lost a few steps it would seem).
REASONS WHY I STUDY RUSSIA
- Russia Matters. Russia has been a major power in international affairs for centuries now. Russia has played a massive role in international events and continues to be a significant player on the world stage. Russia always has a unique angle on every crisis and event, and it is invaluable to understand their perspective on things since their participation is often essential for bringing about a solution. While Russia was out of the game for a long while following the fall, Russia has experienced a meteoric resurgence in the last few years and they are taking the center stage in politics. Additionally it is the largest country in the world and one of the most populated (size matters right?).
- Russian Politics are a Great Case Study. Russia’s history is (almost) neatly compartmentalized into a few specific areas that make it invaluable for a student of politics to study. The Tsarist era provides great insight into how centralization takes place and how well autocracy can hold up. The rise and fall of the Soviet Union in particular is of unparalleled value to academics since concisely shows an arc of revolutionary utopian politics. Finally, modern (or rather, post-modern?) Russia is the poster child of transitional states and the problems they face. You can learn a lot about the world by studying Russia.
- Russian History is Melodramatic. Its overwrought with emotion and extremes. Sometimes Russian history is comedic, such as when a pretender to the throne was put into a cannon and fired into Poland. Oftentimes Russian history is a tragedy, especially during the Stalinist epoch. Hell, on occasion Russian history is a tragicomedy, hence why I love Khrushchev. In any case Russian history is filled with unique events and circumstances that rival those of any epic novel. It is important to keep it all in perspective though; when we talk about Russian history we are still dealing with real people and real lives. I find that their dramatic history just further humanizes the Russian people though: they have an unlimited capacity to take hardship in stride.
- Russia is Unique. Russia is both familiar and exotic. It occupies a unique space between East and West as one of the few truly Eurasian countries. A quick look at the Russian alphabet is enough to express this idea: there is so much that we can relate to and yet so much that is foreign. At times I still struggle with this idea. Exactly how foreign is Russia? Yet again, Russians themselves have struggled with this question for centuries. Russia’s uncertain identity adds a great spice to its politics and history, much like how an abundance of dill adds a great flavour to most Russian cuisine. The emblem of these bipolar forces at work in Russian politics is the double-headed eagle which, by the way, would make an excellent tattoo.
- Russia is Deep. We’re not just talking of Lake Baikal here! Russian history, politics, and culture are almost inexhaustible. There are so many personalities, events, and items to choose from. Most people know icons like Brezhnev, the AK-47, and the Matryoshka, but there is plenty of obscure material to go into whenever you fancy. There is always more culture, more recipes, more stories and jokes to delve into. You would expect as much from a country with comparable surface area to Pluto right?
In reality I could just go on and on here but brevity is the soul of wit (or some nonsense like that) so I will pull the plug here. Besides I need to get back to commentary on current events. In any case I hope that I convinced you to take a look into Russia. It doesn’t have to be a lifelong dedication: you can get by with a few brief inquiries.
Hopefully I have just justified my unhealthy obsession with Russia.