As jihadism scholar Thomas Hegghammer and a selection of other fine scholars show in the book Jihadi Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2016), jihadis don’t just fight, kill, and die for their cause. In their spare time they also read poetry, interpret dreams, listen to music, pray, weep, and embroider. Such activities are ways to generate meaning, which, of course, is a very human endeavor, and jihadis are human too. So are right-wing militants. Just look at these dancing Nazis in St Petersburg.
Readers, colleagues, tovarishchi! Allow me to introduce The Restless Russianist. I plan to use this blog as a platform for sharing reflections, notes, and sources related to my research interests, which mostly revolve around Russian history (Soviet and post-Soviet), right-wing extremism, and antisemitism. For details about what I do, see my personal website.
Why this blog? I have a public motivation as well as a private one. The first impetus came from the outside, as a highly respected colleague encouraged me (twice!) to start a blog. After some initial doubts I began thinking he might be right. A blog is a nice way for any researcher to connect with a larger community of colleagues and other interested parties. No less important, as a publicly funded academic I’m responsible for making the products of my research available to a wider audience, not just readers of peer-reviewed publications.
There’s also a more personal reason. Like most researchers, I’ve usually tailored my writings to fit the narrow formats of academic publications. These are indispensable for career purposes, but they also limit what you can say (and what you do say takes ages to get published). Those limits can frustrate me, as there’s always a lot of things I would like to get off my mind and share with others that won’t fit into a journal article or book manuscript. The Restless Russianist, then, should serve as an open, informal space for venting ideas and sharing stuff I come across that, I dare hope, might interest you as well.