For Discussion Forum 7, please address any of the questions below. As always: you are required to make a minimum of THREE (3) posts per module. At least one of your three posts should be your own original comment; at least one â€“ should be a response to or comment on something another classmate has posted; the third post can be either your own original post or a comment on a classmateâ€™s post. Keep in mind that your response should NOT simply be a summary of the assigned reading. A higher grade will be awarded to posts that demonstrate studentâ€™s ability to provide an original interpretation of the topic while also applying relevant concepts, issues, and theories covered in the module.
1. Using information about the concept of “personality cult” analyzed in Cassidy and Johnson article (esp. pp. 46 – 49), discuss the various ways in which Putin’s cult has been created in today’s Russia. From what you have understood from the course material so far, how does the Putin cult (and the opposition to this cult) differ from cults of other Soviet leaders (e.g. Stalin or Brezhnev)?
2. If you recall, in the documentary My Perestroika Borya (a history teacher) was unhappy with new history books that the Russian government was imposing on high schools. Read an excerpt from such a history book in Peter Baker’s essay “Project Putin” (p.38). What is your opinion on the textbook’s message? Do you feel this type of “historical” text is, in a way, a step back towards Soviet-style propaganda? Explain your opinion. Do you think schools need to draw a line between education and politics, education and indoctrination? Should any time be spent in schools glorifying (or even discussing) the country’s leaders? Make sure to tie your answer to the Russian example.
3. Several readings and documentaries in this module talk about the mythology surrounding Putin’s name, as well as about “the Putin brand.” Discuss specific examples of various cultural mythologies surrounding Russia’s current leader. Why do you think these mythologies might be important to his rule? Can you think of similar folkloric, mythological or popular cultural presentations of politicians as celebrities in other countries (including the U.S.)? In general, do you think politicians can be considered celebrities?
4. As you learned in this module, Vladimir Putin’s first priority as Russian president was to bring prosperity, order and stability to Russia. From what you read / watched in this module, explain whether Putin was successful in stabilizing the situation in Russia. And, if he has indeed set Russia on the path of progress (at least economic?), why are there so many opponents and critics of his regime? (Make sure to back up your answers with facts and data from the module’s materials).
5. In his article “Putin Era: Progress and Problems,” Prof. John Thompson speaks about many paradoxes of Putin’s presidency. Discuss any of these paradoxes that caught your eye the most.
6. Question for the political scientists among us. The materials you’ve studied in this module all bring up a number of different terms to describe Vladimir Putin’s regime, from “kleptocracy” to central government authority to “sovereign democracy.” Based on this module’s materials, which term do you find most appropriate and why? (make sure to back your argument with facts from the readings / viewings).
7. Read the article “Universities Prepare for the Cold War Redux (Links to an external site.).” Based on the information of this module (and any other information you’ve learned in this class), provide your own insight and expert analysis of the situation described as a cultural anthropologist / scholar of contemporary Russia. What are the roots of the issue discussed in the article? (How did it happen that, at least according to the experts interviewed in the article, “the number of people who can give qualified perspective (on Russia – OM) is near its lowest since the end of World War II”? What are the consequences of this situation? Did anything else catch your eye in the article? (For example, do you agree with a Professor from George Washington University that, when it comes to curricula, Universities are “faddish”? Can you give specific examples of such academic “fads”?)