Staying Connected: Summer 2017
In Johannes Vermeer’s painting, The Lacemaker (1670), a young woman bends in focus over her craft of making lace, while a mess of red material lies tangled to her right. The scene has been critiqued as representative of shifts in social relations around women’s domestic roles in mid-17th century Europe. The diligence and focus required to make lace by hand is in the foreground of the scene, and yet the blurred red thread from which such order springs belies deeper impulses that contrast with such feminine virtuousness, repeated by the small prayer book in the center of the image. As also tends to be the case in weaving any comprehensive text, sometimes the best way to see something in one’s own work is to look away from its seemingly predictable contexts. In recent months, I have been studying, learning, and observing state management processes in Washington. State-society relations have remained central to my ongoing interests in how the academy, governance, and protest intersect.
I am honored to have received a U.S. Fulbright Scholar Award for my work in cultural studies, gender, and media studies. Beginning this September, I will be conducting research in the culture of informatics while teaching at Kyiv-Mohilya Academy in the Faculty of Technology and Society, the Department of Sociology, and the Mohilya School of Journalism. I also plan to publish my current book involving art and the question of feminism in contemporary Ukraine at University of Toronto Press by the end of 2018. My mentors at U-M continue to sustain my thinking, particularly Benjamin Paloff’s work in translation theory, metaphysics, and authorship.
In media and information studies, the term network carries with it a multitude of meanings. The word itself has roots in the textile industry of lacework, and like the Jacquard loom, describes a range of functions in computing. Yet the word network, or сеть in Soviet Ukrainian and Russian usage, once included additional concepts such as base, complex, cluster, and system. The translation of these terms into wider social and cultural contexts since the 1950s-60s postwar era has enjoyed a rich and interesting transatlantic exchange of inquiry around theories that attempted to describe organizational patterns in computing, management, economics, and society—some fiercely opposed by scholars on purely ideological grounds. What these stories can tell us today about how we communicate, more and more often through the assistance of technology, inspires me to continue asking questions about language, identity, and their mediation across sociopolitical contexts. As part of this endeavor, I have been invited to help coordinate a new initiative at the University of Alberta in 2018, entitled CUSP: Contemporary Ukraine Studies Program, where I hope I will be able to continue to thread more stories, ideas, and scholars into our growing Ann Arbor Slavic network.