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Culture: Russia and Eurasia


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.

Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


When studying a particular region of the world, knowledge of its cultural universe is crucial; the study of culture allows the understanding of the deeper structures behind history, politics and economy. Culture is the symbolic repertoire that gives form and content to national and collective identities, the subjectivity of individuals, and the environment. Culture is expressed in both material and immaterial resources, through which relations of legitimacy and domination are built in specific temporal and geographical contexts. Culture is a domain in which strategies for winning consent and cohesion are reflected, but it also includes mechanisms of in- and exclusion or conflicts on the basis of e.g. nationality, language, religion, ethnicity or gender. This course looks at these processes in specific cultural contexts of the world, and revises the regional scholarly traditions in the study and circulation of culture.
How can Alexander Pushkin’s narrative poem The Bronze Horseman help us understand the controversies over megalomaniac development projects in St. Petersburg? What tactics do individual interest groups employ to contest the Kremlin’s vision of the Soviet past as a time of great heroics? What is the mutual perception of centre and periphery in such an enormous country, for example, of European Russians and the indigenous peoples of Siberia? These and similar questions will be explored on the basis of a wide variety of materials ranging from poetry and film to the glossy brochures of Russian gas giant Gazprom and the pseudo-authentic souvenirs of ethnic and linguistic minorities. Equipped with the tools of cultural semiotics, post-colonialism and sociolinguistics, the student will learn more about the surprising cultural and ethnic diversity of post-Soviet Russia, as well as about the tensions to which this diversity sometimes gives rise.
Since language is also an important marker of culture and identity, the second block will focus on the linguistic situation in Russian and Eurasia. After a historical introduction to the Russian language as a member of the Slavic language family, its modern functions will be discussed, as well as its position among the many other languages that are spoken in the country.

Course objectives

  • At the end of the course students will be able to analyze and question received notions on the Russian “national character” as they are perpetuated in literature, non-fiction and the visual arts. They will be able to recognize the agency of (social, linguistic) minorities and individuals even in an oppressive environment; they will also gain a better understanding of the continuities and discontinuities of Soviet and post-Soviet culture. In terms of academic skills, they will learn to assess the quality of their sources (internet) and appreciate the “embeddedness” of any information they find. Finally, they will improve their reading knowledge of Russian.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Lecture course with tutorials.

Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Course Load

Total course load for the course is 5 ec = 140 hours, broken down by: – Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 32 hours – Time for studying the compulsory literature: 60 hours – Assessments: 48 hours

Assessment method

Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:
the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

All readings will be made available through Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. E. L. Stapert, email
Dr. O.F. Boele, email