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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kayla Reopelle at 12:54AM
Dr. Irina Aristarkhova

Blog posting by Kayla Reopelle, Documentary Studies and Production '14, FLEFF Blogger, Roy, WA


KR: Could you give this lecture in Russia?

IA: Three months ago, yes. But after Ukraine, I’m not so sure anymore. 


Dr. Irina Aristarkhova, associate professor of History of Art and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, discussed the connections between dissonance and her upcoming lecture titled, “Okruzenie: Pussy RiotSochi, and Anti-Gay Politics in Putin’s Russia” with me last week.


Instead of answers, Dr. Aristarkhova brought me more questions. 


She challenged me to consider three points before her lecture on Saturday April 5:


Who is a true Russian? 

Dr. Aristarkhova’s interest in this topic goes back to the mid-90s. 


“National identity, political power, and patriarchy all intersect.”


People claim Russianness for a purpose. This interest in national identity may emerge from a sense of isolation from the rest of the world. Voices from certain speakers, such as feminists and the LGBT community, are ostracized from the discussion.


What is unity, what is agreement and what do we do with dissonance?

“We are at a moment politically, culturally, internationally in which we are not in agreement.”


Dr. Aristarkhova said we cannot just recognize our differences, we must embrace our discomfort with others’ unique and complex identities. FLEFF provides an opportunity to look into each other’s eyes.


What do we do with uncomfortable cultural-political dissonance in our environment?

Dr. Aristarkhova has not given many lectures on these topics. Her personal connection to people, artists and scholars under attack in Russia make it difficult to analyze these issues. She is still trying to process them.


“It’s not just about recognizing our differences, but embracing each other’s discomfort.”


Dr. Aristarkhova is not interested in a single solution to the problems she researches. Russian feminism, sexual diversity, and national identity are all more complicated than that.


She is interested in discussion: questioning intersections, exploring interventions, and determining new ways of thinking about these ideas.


What do you do when you are faced with dissonance?


Dr. Irina Aristarkhova will give a multimedia lecture at Cinemapolis on Saturday April 5 at 4:20 pm titled Okruzenie: Pussy Riot. Sochi, and Anti-Gay Politics in Putin’s Russia. This event is free and open to the public.



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