Four Quarters: Unidentified RUSSIA


If it is often said that Russia is unimaginably vast, the same could be said for the field of study devoted to it. Entire institutes, university departments, laboratories and expeditions are dedicated to understanding Russia – but do they really expand our knowledge? Four experts – a geographer, an ethnographer, a demographer, and an economist – share their ignorance.

Dr. Vladimir Kagansky is a geographer and teaches at Moscow State University and the Higher School of Economics. His field of research includes theoretical geography, the theory of district divisions and classification, the Russian cultural landscape and the post-Soviet space. He has written more than 300 scientific and popular-science articles and is a consultant for a wide range of regional and city development projects.

Dr Ekaterina Melnikova is an ethnologist and senior researcher at the department of Eastern Slavs and Peoples of European Russia at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, commonly known as the Kunstkamera. Her interests include oral history, the anthropology of space, investigation of memory, and local and regional history. Her published works include “The Imaginary Book: studies in the folklore of books and reading in Russia.” She is currently working on a new project called “Being Local: Symbols of Locality in the Late Socialist and Post-Socialist Era”.

Dr. Sergei Zakharov is an associate professor of demography and director of the Demographic Research Centre at the Higher School of Economics’ Demography Institute. His research interests include analysis of how populations reproduce, generational demography, the sociology of the family, and birth rates.

Dr. Vladimir Bessonov is an economist and associate professor of transition economics at the Higher School of Economics, where he also heads the Research Laboratory for Problems of Inflation and Economic Growth. He is a member of the scientific-methodological committee of the State Statistics Service. His research interests include the macroeconomic dynamics of transition, and self-organization in economics.