In this study of post-Soviet writing culture Clowes demonstrates a major shift in the dominant metaphors of Russian identity, from the temporal to the spatial. She argues moreover that newly refurbished geographical metaphors, or imagined geographies, give a useful standpoint for examining the debate between aggressive ultranationalists and committed universalists about being Russian. Is any citizen of the Russian Federation a Russian, with the full complement of rights accruing to that status? Or are only ethnic Russians really “Russian”? Where is the “real” Russia? Clowes lays out several sides of the debate. She takes as a backdrop to the debate the strong criticism of Soviet Moscow and its self-image as uncontested global hub by major late-20th-century writers, among them, Tatyana Tolstaya and Viktor Pelevin.
The most vocal, visible, and colorful rightist ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin, the founder of neo-Eurasianism, has articulated positions debated by such writers and thinkers as Mikhail Ryklin, Liudmila Ulitskaia and Anna Politkovskaia, who wish to see the birth of a new civility in Russia. Dugin’s views and their many responses—in fiction, film, philosophy, documentary journalism—form the body of this book.