Using the example of photo- projects by some leading Byelorussian photographers Sergei Ushakin shows how the Soviet past in these works retrospectively appears as a post-colonial archive documenting different forms of non-presence, distancing and dissociation. Working mainly with visual materials dating back to the Soviet times contemporary photographers activate and authenticate these "newly found" pictures. Thus those imprints of the past become at the same time the reproductions of that past and a critical commentary on the limits of its expressive possibilities.
SERGEI USHAKIN (RUSSIA / USA) Holds the degree of Cand.Sc. in Political Sciences from St Petersburg University, and Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. Full professor of the departments of anthropology and Slavic languages and literatures at Princeton University. His book The Patriotism of Despair: Nation, War and Loss in Russia (Cornell University Press, 2009) is devoted to the ethnography of community losses in post-Soviet Russian provinces and was recognized as the best book of the year by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages. His collected essays The Gender Field (Vilnius, 2007) was awarded by the Russian Association of Political Sciences. His articles on the anthropology and history of the Soviet and post Soviet society were published in such journals as Ab Imperio, New Literary Observer, Russian Review, Slavic Review, American Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropology, and others. Ushakin is currently working on a book on postcolonial history of post-Soviet societies.