Eliot Borenstein (Professor of Russian, New York University)

Eliot Borenstein is a Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, Collegiate Professor at New York University, Senior Academic Convenor for the Global Network, and Acting Chair of East Asian Studies. With a Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Professor Borenstein was an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia (1993-95) before taking an appointment at NYU in 1995. He is author of Overkill:  Sex Violence, and Russian Popular Culture after 1991 and Men without Women: Masculinity and Revolution in Russian Fiction, 1917-1929. His new book, Plots against Russia: Conspiracy and Fantasy after Socialism will soon be published by Cornell University Press; an earlier draft is available at

Dmitri Bykov (Writer, journalist, public intellectual, Moscow, Russia)

Dmitri Bykov is a well-known writer, journalist, editor and social commentator in contemporary Russia. A writer of poetry, fiction, biography, and criticism, Bykov is also a co-founder of the satirical Citizen Poet project.  He has served as an editor for several literary journals and has hosted radio and television shows. We invite him both as an astute analyst of and a significant participant in the Russian media

Christine Evans (Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee)

Christine E. Evans is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her first book, Between Truth and Time: A History of Soviet Central Television (Yale University Press, 2016), received Honorable Mention for the 2017 ASEEES (Association for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies) USC Book Prize for Literary and Cultural Studies. Between Truth and Time traces the emergence of play, conflict, and competition on Soviet news programs, serial films, and variety and game shows of the Brezhnev era. These experiments with representing and responding to audience demand on television, she argues, helped lay the groundwork for Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms as well as the post-Soviet media system. Her current project, conducted together with Lars Lundgren (Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn University, Stockholm) and supported by a major grant from the Swedish Baltic Sea Foundation, explores the development of satellite communications during the Cold War.

Elena Gapova (Associate Professor of Sociology, Western Michigan University)

Elena Gapova is an associate professor at Western Michigan University and the former founding director of the Center for Gender Studies at European Humanities University (Belarus). Her research focuses on the issues of class, gender, and nation-building in post-socialist societies. As a cultural sociologist, she critically analyses the role of intellectuals, the social impact of the internet, and Russian and Belarusian culture and society. She is the author, most recently, of “Klassy natsiy: feministskaya kritika natsiostroitel’stva” (Moscow, NLO, 2016).

Vladimir Kara-Murza (Visiting Fellow, Institute of Politics, University of Chicago)

Vladimir V. Kara-Murza is a well-known author, filmmaker, and political figure who has been involved in the Russian opposition, both at home and abroad. He is the former Washington bureau chief of RTVi television (2004-2012), and correspondent for the newspapers Novye Izvestia and Kommersant, and is currently vice-chairman of Open Russia. He produced They Chose Freedom, a 2005 television documentary series on dissent in the Soviet Union. He was a candidate for the Russian parliament in 2003, an advisor to Duma opposition leader Boris Nemtsov (2000–03), and campaign chairman for presidential candidate Vladimir Bukovsky (2007–08). He received an M.A. in history from Cambridge University, and is the author of Reform or Revolution: The Quest for Responsible Government in the First Russian State Duma (Moscow 2011).

Alexander Kondakov (Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Sociology, European University in St. Petersburg; Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin—Madison)

Alexander Kondakov is an assistant professor of Department of Political Science and Sociology at the European University at St. Petersburg, Russia. He completed his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of St. Petersburg. He is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is working with Professor Kathryn Hendley. His research interests lie in the sphere of queer sexuality and law. Current research projects include studies of effects of the law banning ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ in Russia. His work has appeared in Social and Legal Studies, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, and Feminist Legal Studies.

William Nickell (Associate Professor of Russian Literature, University of Chicago)

William Nickell’s 2010 book The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910 described the first modern media frenzy in Russia, as reporters used Tolstoy’s mysterious departure from his home and subsequent death in a remote railway station to describe problems in Russian society between the revolution of 1905 and 1917. He has continued to focus on Russian and Soviet media culture, regularly teaching a course on this topic that applies aesthetic theory to modern media. He recently adapted this course to include material on contemporary American events.

Eugene Raikhel (Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago)

Eugene Raikhel is an Associate Professor at the University of Chicago Department of Comparative Human Development, and a cultural and medical anthropologist with interests encompassing the anthropology of science, biomedicine and psychiatry; addiction and its treatment; suggestion and healing; and post-socialist transformations in Eurasia. His book Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic was published by Cornell University Press in the Fall of 2016. Based on fourteen months of fieldwork in St. Petersburg among institutions dealing with substance abuse, this book examines the political-economic, epidemiological and clinical changes that have transformed the knowledge and medical management of alcoholism and addiction in Russia over the past twenty years.

Natalia Roudakova (Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Media and Communication, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Natalia Roudakova is a cultural anthropologist working in the field of political communication and comparative media studies. She was educated in both the Soviet Union and the United States (Ph.D. in Cultural and Social Anthropology, Stanford University, 2007). From 2008 to 2017, she worked as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication, University of California in San Diego. She is author, most recently, of Losing Pravda: Ethics and the Press in Post-Truth Russia (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Konstantin Sonin (John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy)

Konstantin Sonin is John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. His research interests include political economics, development, and economic theory. His papers have been published in leading academic journals in economics and political science. In addition to his academic work, Sonin writes a blog on Russian political and economic issues and a fortnightly column for the Russian-language newspaper Vedomosti, and contributed to all major Russian media. In 2012, he was an economic advisor to the presidential campaign of Mikhail Prokhorov. Sonin earned an MSc and PhD in mathematics from Moscow State University and an MA in economics at Moscow’s New Economic School, was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, served on the faculty of the New Economic School (NES) and Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow, and was also a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Susanne Wengle (Assistant Professor, Political Science, Notre Dame University)

Susanne A. Wengle is Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame since 2015. She holds a Ph.D. from University of California Berkeley and was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Chicago between 2011 and 2015. Her main research interest is the political dynamics that shapes markets institutions in post-Soviet economies. Wengle is the author of Post-Soviet Power: State-led Development and Russia’s Marketization (Cambridge University Press 2015), which examines the political economy of newly created electricity markets in Russia and more generally engages with questions how we study markets in the post-Soviet context and beyond. Wengle has conducted research and published on other aspects of Russia’s post-Soviet transformations – on agricultural reforms, the liberalization of welfare provisions and the politics of expertise, published in Governance, Regulation and Governance, Economy and Society, Studies in Comparative International Development, Europe-Asia Studies and elsewhere. The empirical focus of her current project is agriculture and food production in Russia and the US.