Angelos Theocharis (Open World Research Initiative Scholarship)

Thesis title: A transnational community of readers: Community literary practices and identity construction of the UK Russian-speaking diaspora

Background

I hold a Bachelor in Law (2011) from the University of Athens, Greece and an MA in Russian Studies and International Relations from the Lomonosov Moscow State University from which I graduated in 2014 with Summa Cum Laude. Striving for research, in September 2017 I started my PhD in Russian Cultural Studies at the University of Edinburgh joining an AHRC funded Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) research project titled ‘Diasporic and Transnational Russophone Networks in the UK: in Search for Global Russians’ under the supervision of Professor Lara Ryazanova-Clarke. My research focuses on the community literary practices of the Russophone diaspora in the UK, as an aspect of the Global Russian phenomenon.

Moreover, I participate in the Academy of Finland’s project "Cultural Statecraft in International Relations: The Case of Russia" (2016-2020) contributing with a chapter on "Russian literature as cultural statecraft". I am also involved in the Cost Actions "CA18126 - Writing Urban Places. New Narratives of the European City"  and "CA18140 - People in Motion: Entangled Histories of Displacement across the Mediterranean (1492-1923)".

Undergraduate teaching

Tutor in:

  • Russian Studies 1A 
  • The Golden & Silver Ages of Russian Literature

Research summary

My PhD dissertation explores the role of the community literary practices of the Russophone diasporic community in the UK, in the construction of transnational cultural identities. The Russophone community in Great Britain, which consists of UK citizens and residents of Russian and Soviet heritage, holds a highly active and visible place in the cultural life of the country, maintaining a constant dialogue with Russia and its cultural production. More specifically, we observe a great number of Russian literary events, including book festivals, events with writers and book presentations, as well as community events, such as book clubs and children poetry reading competitions. From the above community events, I have chosen two as my case studies: first, the major Russophone book club, the Waterstones Russian Book Club (WRBC); and second, literary events with Russian authors visiting the UK as part of the WRBC meetings, the Read Russia events in the UK, the London Book Fair 2018 and 2019, and the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre literary events. The data collection has been conducted through participant observation of the aforementioned events, as well as informal and formal semi-structured interviews with fifteen WRBC members and fifteen famous Russian authors. My main argument is that the practices under discussion reproduce and reinforce a long-distance relationship with the cultural homeland, while consolidating a community around them.

 

Invited speaker

“In Search of Identity: Community literary events and the Russophone diaspora in Britain”. Edinburgh Centre for Global History Graduate Workshops,  Edinburgh: 4 February 2020.            

“Russian literature as cultural statecraft”. Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Monterey CA: 22 November 2019.                   

“Ethnographic challenges and Russophone Book Clubs in the UK”. TwixtLAB, Athens: 13 May 2019.                                                                                         

 

Organiser

Co-Organizer with Dr Alexandra Smith of the "Russia and Europe: Linguistic and Cultural Encounters", University of Edinburgh: 30 May 2019. 

Papers delivered

“«Every new generation needs its own books»: Transnational post-Soviet identity and the Waterstones Russian Book Club.” Second International Conference on «Post-Soviet Diaspora(s) in Western Europe, 1991-2019», Lisbon: 16-17 December 2019. 

“In dialogue with Russia: Community literary practices of the Russophone diaspora in the UK.” ASEEES Annual Convention, San Francisco: 23-26 November 2019. 

"'Russian literature can fix everything': Read Russia and cultural statecraft." Aleksanteri Conference 2019 “Technology, Culture, and Society in the Eurasian Space”, University of Helsinki: 23–25 October 2019.

“Playing the Author: Games and Discourse in a Russophone Community Book Club.”  Russia and Europe: Linguistic and Cultural Encounters. University of Edinburgh: 30 May 2019. 

“Russophone Book Clubs in the UK: Diasporic community literary practices and cultural identity.” BASEES Annual Conference, Cambridge: 12-14 April 2019. 

“Creating new cultural landscapes: contemporary landscape design and spatialization of cultural narratives.” 10th Midterm Conference of the European Sociological Association, University of Malta: 4-7 September 2018. 

“Polyphonic memory and narratives of resilience in Svetlana Alexievich’ s “Secondhand time.” Conference of the Journal of Languages, Texts and Society, University of Nottingham: 14-15 June 2018. 

“Transmitting ideology through literature: The case of Russian Dream”.  Connecting to the Masses: 100 Years from the Russian Revolution, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam: 13-14 November 2017. 

“The Sound of Kythera – Synergies of education and culture in the field of acoustic ecology." 4th Acoustic Ecology Conference, “Sound, Noise, Environment”, University of the Aegean, Mytilene: 3-6 November 2016. 

“The adaptation of the Russian artistic community to the post-communist era.” 6th International Conference “Language, Culture, and Society in Russian/English Studies, University of London: 27-28 July 2015. 

Angelos Theocharis. The Russian Dream and Victor Pelevin’s Generation “Π": Ideology in Post-Soviet Russia. In "Protest Technologies and Media Revolutions: The  Longue Durée", edited by Athina Karatzogianni, Ioanna Ferra,  and Michael Schandorf. Bingley, UK: Emerald, forthcoming.

Angelos Theocharis. 'Echoes of elves and demons in the riverbank' The exploration of history and folklore in Kythera through walking. In "EXPERIENTIAL WALKS FOR URBAN DESIGN. Revealing, Representing, and Activating the Sensory Environment", edited by Barbara E. A. Piga, Daniel Siret, Jean-Paul Thibaud. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, forthcoming.

Angelos Theocharis. Going Online: The Pandemic Meetings of a Russophone Book Club. In Anthropological Responses to COVID-19, a digital platform organised by the Centre for Digital Anthropology at UCL. May 2020.

Angelos Theocharis. Sensory community. In "VADEMECUM: 77 Minor Terms for Writing Urban Places", edited by Klaske Havik, Kris Pint, Svava Riesto and Henriette Steiner. Rotterdam, Netherlands: nai0I0 Publishers, 2020.

Angelos Theocharis. Soundwalks and Art. In "Why is art relevant to me? Its many dimensions and how it is used in our lives", edited by Maria Athanasekou. Athens, Greece: Idyepeia, 2020.

Angelos Theocharis. Polyphonic memory and narratives of resilience in Svetlana Alexievich’s “Secondhand time”. Journal of Languages, Texts, and Society, Issue 3, May 2019.

Dionysis Anemogiannis and Angelos Theocharis. Soundmaps as a Tool for Education and Cultural Analysis: The Case of Sound of Kythera.  Proceedings of the 4th Acoustic Ecology Conference "Sound, Noise, Environment", Hellenic Society of Acoustic Ecology, June 2018.

Angelos Theocharis. The figure of Jesus Christ in Dostoevsky's "Idiot" and Canetti's "Auto-da-Fé". “Simeioseis”, Issue 75, pp. 93-103, June 2012 

Angelos Theocharis. The Love Poetry of Vladimir Mayakovski (Translations - Essays)“Koykoytsi”, Issue 6, pp. 105-195, June 2012