The 112nd NZ issue comprises three topical sections as well as several stand-alone articles that tie in with the main themes in some way or another.
The first section focuses on one of the most urgent problems of today’s humanities and social sciences, that of the relationship between history, treated as a public phenomenon rather than an academic subject, and a collective memory of the past. This section opens with “Public History: Between Academic Research and Practice”, a survey by Andrey Zavadsky, Egor Isaev, Artem Kravchenko, Varvara Sklez and Ekaterina Suverina. The first part of the article summarises existing studies of the range of problems under discussion, while the second part is centred on the conference "The Past: A Foreign Country?" held in 2016 at the Department of Media (National Reserch University "High School of Economy"). Three talks delivered at the conference, revised and extended, continue the theme. In his article “Prince Svyatoslav and the Politics of Memory”, Viktor Shnirelman analyses in detail the transformation of the image of Prince Svyatoslav, the ruler of the Kievan Rus, into one of the key figures in present-day Russian nationalists’ propaganda and “historical research”. Galina Yankovskaya writes about the role played by Stalin-era art in public and museum spaces and urban practices. In “Commemorative practices in Modern Kabardino—Balkaria”, Dmitry Prasolov uses the region as an example to examine the “politics of memory”. Especially interesting is his analysis of the Soviet past as perceived by different peoples: things shared by and dividing them in relation to that past. The section ends with an article by Ivan Sablin, Liliya Bolyachevets and Serensamuu Budatsyrenova on the representation of historical memory in contemporary Buryat literature. “Buryat—Mongolia Online and Offline: Contemporary Literature and Historical Memory” discusses the idea of a “Buryat-Mongolian state”, dating back to the early 20th century (it found a political and administrative implementation in the 1920s, when an autonomous republic of that name was formed), and the shape this notion takes today in Buryat literature and on the Internet.
The relationship between public memory, historiography and the historical fact itself is further explored in a piece published in the Case Study section. Olga Edelman carefully traces the myth of Iosif Dzhugashvili’s heroic time in a Baku prison in 1909, which was born, strangely enough, in the Russian émigré press in the 1920s.
The second part of the issue, titled “The Rule-of-Law State and Islam”, refers to one of the most sensitive questions facing the world today, that of Islam, Islamic law and its relation to Western legislative traditions, including, first and foremost, the theory and practice of the rule-of-law state. The section opens with a translation of a chapter from “The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State”, a book by Noah Feldman, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, which studies the notion of a state built on Islamic principles, rather than the eponymous terrorist organisation. Feldman offers a brief introduction into the problem this section focuses on. “From Fitnah to Saura: Metamorphoses of Arab–Muslim Protest Movements” by Leonid Isaev considers Muslim protest movements in the Arab world: the process whereby they change, their dynamics and transformation. Stefan Weidner, a German writer, Arabist and scholar of Islam, analyses a question the public opinion of the West and Arab countries has been concerned with for several decades, namely: can any concept of “human rights” with a claim to universality be applied to another (most importantly, Muslim) state and legal culture?
The topic of this section is further explored in an interview with Leonid Syukiyaynen, a Russian expert on Islamic law, covering some of the “hottest” issues of the conflict between two modern approaches to law, Western and Islamic. Syukiyaynen notes that some of the basic provisions of the Western legal framework have been adopted from the Muslim world.
The third section, “Archaeology of the City: Space Multiplied by Time”, continues a theme recently given much prominence in NZ: that of urban space and its sociocultural, political and socio-psychological aspects. The opening piece is Igor Kobylin’s article “«Light Monumentalism in Contemporary Style»: Nizhny Novgorod’s Phantasmagorias of Historical «Heritage»”, a study of the historical, cultural and political archaeology of the Nizhny Novgorod Central Department Store’s architecture and design. Nizhny Novgorod is also the subject of a joint project by the artist Natalya Vikulina and the sociologist Olga Osipova, who present the results of their “psycho-geographical” movements through the city’s various areas. Combining an artistic approach with an academic one in an engaging way, the piece is complemented by Vikulina’s photographs made specifically for the project. The section concludes with an article by Konstantin Glazkov and Pavel Gnilorybov on the toponymy of Moscow linked to its Metro stations and the way it changes with the city’s development.
The piece published in the Culture of Politics section is also worth mentioning here. In “Obscuri viri”, Igor Smirnov outlines modern obscurantism, which he sees as one of the symptoms of the decline of today’s political regimes.
Also in this NZ issue are the journal’s regular columns by Alexey Levinson (Sociological Lyrics), Alexander Kustarev (Political Imaginary) and Kirill Kobrin (Old World Chronicles). The issue traditionally ends with the Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review (by Alexander Pisarev) and New Books section.