Sergey Toymentsev

Sergey Toymentsev received his PhD in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University in 2014.

His dissertation titled Deleuze and Russian Film: Transcendental Exercise of the Faculties on (Post-) Totalitarian Screen explores the historical dynamics of Soviet and Russian cinema through the lens of Deleuzian film-philosophy.

He is currently revising his thesis into a book manuscript. His other book project tentatively titled Mnemonic Hybrids in a Hybrid Regime: Remembering the Soviet Past in Putin’s Russia (under contract with Routledge) focuses on the memory politics in contemporary Russia in the context of the hybrid regime paradigm that explains paradoxes of post-Soviet memory in the legal system, public opinion, memorial politics, television, film industry, and literature. He has published articles and reviews on film (in Scope, Canadian Slavonic Studies, Film Criticism, Film International, French Studies, Studies in Russian & Soviet Cinema and Kinokultura), memory studies (in Comparative Literature Studies and Ab Imperio) and literature and philosophy (in Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry, The AnaChronisT and Pynchon Studies).

Before coming to the PIASt he was holding a postdoctoral fellow position at Florida State University, Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics.

Research project: Mnemonic Hybrids in a Hybrid Regime: Remembering the Soviet Past in Putin’s Russia

My project focuses on Russia’s post-Soviet public memory to be explored in such diverse contexts as political science, legal studies, opinion polls, history textbook writing, literature, film and media studies. Most scholars in the field (e.g. Nikolai Koposov, Dina Khapaeva, Aleksander Etkind, Nanci Adler, David Satter, etc.) approach this problem in a rather homogeneous way, namely, as a thorough re-legitimization of the Soviet legacy and its overall integration into Russian history, which could be explained by their adherence to the transition paradigm that prescribes a linear scenario of either failure or success to the development of posttotalitarian states.

In this project, thematically organized as a monograph of eight chapters, I examine Russia's current dynamic of the collective memory according to the hybrid regime paradigm which, unlike the transition model, offers a better explanation for Russia's systemic reconciliation of both authoritarian and democratic tendencies. I argue that the same framework should be applied to Russia's public memory of the Soviet legacy, which is characterized neither by re-Stalinization nor de-Stalinization but by the contradictory co-existence of both.

The main argument of this project is that the conflictual state of the post-Soviet collective memory is not temporary and transitory. Such paradoxical dynamic is definitively stable as it perfectly reflects the regime type propagated by Putin's rule. In the context of Russia's hybrid regime (despite its recent slide toward increasing authoritarianism), post-Soviet collective memory, simultaneously developing in parallel pro-authoritarian and pro-democratic directions, is explored in various contexts of cultural production where both the glorification and condemnation of the Soviet past are purposefully converged and synthesized.

Such interdisciplinary model of Russia’s memory culture does not (ideologically) lament Russia’s failure of transition to a full-fledged democracy or criticize its insufficient mourning for the victims of the Soviet terror, it takes the hybrid nature of the nation’s post-Soviet memory as the starting point for the analysis of its deceptively illogical contradictions and the productive cross-fertilization of divergent and mutually exclusive tendencies.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2017 - 28 February 2018