This post builds on the research article “Moscow's Echo: Technologies of the Self, Publics, and Politics on the Russian Talk Show,” which was published in the August 2009 issue of the Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Cultural Anthropology.
Cultural Anthropology has published a number of essays that examine the dynamics of postsocialist contexts. See on post socialist contexts. See Karolina Szmagalska-Follis’ “Repossession: Notes on Restoration and Redemption in Ukraine's Western Borderland”(2008), Paul Manning’s “Rose-Colored Glasses? Color Revolutions and Cartoon Chaos in Postsocialist Georgia” (2007), Judith Farquhar and Qicheng Zhang’s “Biopolitical Beijing: Pleasure, Sovereignty, and Self-Cultivation in China's Capital” (2005), Alexia Bloch’s “Longing for the Kollektiv: Gender, Power, and Residential Schools in Central Siberia” (2005), and Matthew Kohrman’s "Authorizing a Disability Agency in Post-Mao China: Deng Pufang's Story as Biomythography” (2003).
Cultural Anthropology’s archive also includes many essays that examine the role of media in subject formation. See, for example, Joseph Masco’s "Survival is Your Business: Engineering Ruins and Affect in Nuclear America” (2008). Brian Silverstein’s "Disciplines of Prescence in Modern Turkey: Discourse, Companionship, and the Mass Media of Islamic Practice” (2008, Cymene Howe’s ”Spectacles of Sexuality: Televisionary Activism in Nicaragua” (2008), Sara L. Friedman’s “Watching Twin Bracelets in China: The Role of Spectatorship and Identification in an Ethnographic Analysis of Film Reception” (2006) and Laura Kunreuther’s ”Technologies of the Voice: FM Radio, Telephone, and the Nepali Diaspora in Kathmandu” (2006).
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In the August, 2009 issue of Cultural Anthropology, Tomas Matza examines the practices and politics of self-help in Russia as channeled through a new wave of Russian talk shows, many broadcast via state-run media. Through the analysis of a radio show, entitled “For Adults about Adults,” which offers callers and listeners psychological advice, Matza investigates the ways in which “the self” is reshaped as an object of government, implicating neoliberal technologies in the remaking of postsocialist subjectivity.
Matza's analysis reveals that “For Adults about Adults” incites autonomous, responsible, self-esteeming subjects, in addition to advocating alternative social relations, practices of intimacy and visions of “civil” society. Matza further outlines a complex discursive field, in which the host's technologies of the self construct a liberal-democratic citizen more so than a rational-choice actor, and the competing visions of selfhood, social life, emotions and politics provided by caller responses belie the multiple forces which bear on post-Soviet subjectivity. The psychotherapeutically inspired, neoliberal subject incited by Russian self-help programming dovetails with a state interest in fostering entrepreneurialism among citizens, serving a call to sacrifice all for the economy.