Worries and Violence: Wellesley Professors Discuss Today's Russia

September 22, 2009
Molly Tarantino
781-283-2901 or mtaranti@wellesley.edu

WELLESLEY, Mass. – In May 2008, Dmitry Medvedev took office as President of Russia, but kept former president Vladimir Putin by his side, appointing him to the post of prime minister.

“While Medvedev is officially the president of Russia and its highest ranking official, most observers see that it is Putin who is really determining policy, and right now, because of the drop in oil prices, which is the main determinant of how much revenue the government and the country have to spend, Putin has a lot to worry about,” said Marshall Goldman, Wellesley College professor of economics emeritus.

Goldman will discuss these worries during the panel discussion, “RUSSIA NOW: The Current State of the Former Soviet Union,” Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 pm in Pendleton Atrium on the Wellesley campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Joining Goldman at the talk will be Wellesley professors Philip Kohl and Adam Van Arsdale, of the anthropology department, and Adam Weiner of the Russian department. Nina Tumarkin, professor of history, will moderate.

Kohl will speak about the upsurge of violence in the northern Caucasus, particularly in Ingushetia and Daghestan. He will explain the reasons for the escalating outbreak, the forms it’s taking, the consequences for Russia, and what Russia is and is not doing about it. Van Arsdale will comment on the current situation in Georgia and the southern Caucasus based on his experiences traveling and working in Georgia for six weeks this summer.  In particular, he will focus on the situation in Georgia one year after the conflict with Russia. Weiner will discuss the impending publication of Vladimir Nabokov’s last, unfinished novel, The Original of Laura.

“Nabokov ordered the manuscript burnt while he laying dying in 1977, but his wife Vera could never bring herself to carry out his behest, nor could their son Dmitry,” Weiner said. “Last year Dmitry decided to publish it, and it will be coming out this November.”

Goldman, the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Professor of Russian Economics emeritus, is an expert on the Russian economy and the economics of high technology.  He joined the Wellesley faculty in 1958. In 1998, the Wellesley College Alumnae Association awarded him its first Faculty Service Award. He was also associate director of the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University from 1975 to 2006.

Kohl is the first Kathryn W. Davis Professor of Slavic Studies at Wellesley College. He directs the Wellesley, Mount Holyoke and Williams colleges winter term exchange program with Tbilisi State University in the Republic of Georgia.

Van Arsdale, assistant professor of anthropology, studies paleoanthropology and understanding the human fossil record. His doctoral research was based on analyses of recent hominid fossil discoveries from the Lower Pleistocene site of Dmanisi, Georgia. 

Weiner, associate professor of Russian, has taught Russian language and literature at Wellesley since1994. He teaches second-year Russian and courses on Dostoevsky and Nabokov (who founded the Russian department at Wellesley in 1943), as well as a survey of 20th-century Russian literature.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries. For more information, go to www.wellesley.edu.