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Pick Your Putin: Russia Today in the Shadows of the Past
Four Thursdays, January 31 and February 7, 21, and 28, 6:30–8:00 P.M. Location will be given to subscribers.
Vladimir Putin is a household name in the U.S. Americans now recognize his influence when watching footage of his meetings with Donald Trump and hearing news about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But the Putin myth emerged in 2000, when he achieved prominence as Russia’s second post-Soviet leader. A stern-faced judo master with a penchant for bare-chested photo ops—how could anyone resist? Indeed, few have. Everyone, it seems has their own version of Putin. Putin the tsar. Putin the communist. Putin the dictator. Putin the KGB spy. So, which one is it? Or is it none of the above?
January 31 – Autocracy and its Limits: Putin the Tsar
Is there truth to the cliché that Russians have always had strong rulers?
February 7 – Cold War Intelligence: Putin the Spy
What were the particularities of the Soviet police state and how its legacies have impacted Russia under Putin, a veteran of the KGB?
February 21 – Property and Power: Putin the Boss
How has the Russian economy developed historically, and what does the relationship between property and power look like?
February 28 – Empire or Nation? Putin the Patriot
What is patriotism in Russia built upon today? How is it related to the country’s complicated imperial and Soviet past?
These lectures will explore Russian and Soviet history to discover the myths Americans employ to understand contemporary Russia and its enormously influential leader.
David Rainbow is an instructional assistant professor in the Honors College at the University of Houston. He teaches and writes about modern Russian and Eurasian history and is currently writing a book on the history of Russian and Soviet imperial power in Siberia from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Dr. Rainbow is also editing a volume on the history of race in Russia. Prior to coming to Houston in 2015, he held postdoctoral fellowships at Columbia University and New York University and was a writer-in-residence at the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at NYU. He holds an M.A. in European intellectual history from Drew University and a Ph.D. in Russian history from NYU. Before becoming a historian, he worked as an engineer aboard a merchant ship on the Pacific, a rancher in western North Dakota, and has lived in Russia and Siberia several times.