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Open access

Not-Russians on TV

Class, Comedy, and the Peculiarities of East European Otherness on 2 Broke Girls

Erica L. Fraser


This article discusses portrayals of a Ukrainian and a Polish character on the US sitcom 2 Broke Girls (2011–2017). The pilot episode reveals that the showrunners used stereotypes of Russian characters to establish different national origins for Oleg and Sophie. The show perpetuates offensive stereotypes of Slavic and postsocialist characters to elide differences from Russians but with notable distinctions—stemming from Oleg and Sophie's economic backgrounds in the struggling postsocialist economies of the 1990s. American television has produced many comedic characters from the European margins (Greek, Czech, Ukrainian, Polish, Latvian, or from invented but East European-coded lands) who were understood as chaotic but loveable. Crucially, however, they were not Russian. From the late Cold War through the 2010s, Russianness onscreen seems to consistently signal dishonesty, danger, or hopelessness for Western audiences. This suggests that while stereotypes persist, in comedy, at least, showrunners use East Europeans to support, not threaten, American characters, further othering Russianness.

Open access

The Romanovs on Contemporary American TV

Nostalgia for White Imperialism

Katharina Wiedlack


This article analyzes the Netflix six-part docudrama The Last Czars as well as the Amazon Prime anthology drama The Romanoffs for its representations of Russian imperial history and its heritage. Using an intersectional lens, it utilizes a close watching of the TV shows to identify a nostalgia for Russia's imperial legacy as core element of both series. Embedding the findings within popular culture, the analysis further shows that the nostalgic depiction of the last Russian imperial family and the mourning of their loss has a century-long history within American media. Comparing these depictions further to recent commemorations of the last Romanovs through the exhibitions Russia My History points to the Western complicity in Russian imperialist and colonial ideology through the recent shows in liberal American media.

Free access

The Strawpeople of Russian, Eastern European, and Soviet History in English-Language TV and Film

Erica L. Fraser and Danielle C. Kinsey


This special issue features historical scholars of imperial Russia and the Soviet Union analyzing representations of Russian and East European characters and history in contemporary Anglophone television and films, such as The Americans, Black Widow, The Great, For All Mankind, and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. They identify several tropes that shore up Anglosphere conceptions of progressiveness, liberalism, feminism, and even whiteness in ways that put pressure on geopolitics today, which some have characterized as a second Cold War. Gender and sexuality are dominant themes through which difference between the West and Eastern Europe is commonly staged onscreen. Debate emerges on whether this is a return to twentieth-century thinking or a new vision of Russian and East European otherness.

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The 2023 Judicial Reform That Wasn't

From Non-decision Constitution-Making to Decision and Back

Joshua Segev


This article offers two interpretations of the constitutional confrontation that ensued over the proposed 2023 judicial overhaul legislation. It places the debate in the context of a broader culture war over Israel's conditions of legitimacy and as a continuum. At one end of the spectrum, the judicial overhaul legislation can be seen as pursuing a ‘decision to decide’ tactic, countered by the opposition using the same constitutional tactic in the opposite direction. On the other end of the spectrum, the judicial overhaul program could be viewed as an opening position in constitutional negotiations, with reform advocates seeking only the nomination of a few committed conservative justices and the maintenance of the constitutional status quo of deciding not decide. To this end, the nationalists’ move was again countered by the opposition using the same constitutional tactic but in the opposite direction to prevent this outcome.

Open access

Achieving good science

The integrity of scientific institutions

Jeannette Pols, Amade M'charek, Sonja Jerak-Zuiderent, and Jonna Brenninkmeijer


There are worries about the quality of scientific research, the validity of the knowledge it produces and the integrity of academics. What is lacking in the debate is what scientists have to say and what they do to create and safeguard what they see as ‘good science’. Using Dutch academia as a case, we show that the academics’ understandings of scientific practice differ in vital ways from those of policy makers. Policy maker's understanding of academia as a competitive marketplace to foster innovative research disturbs the everyday ethics and creativity of scientific work according to the scientists, who see academia as a collective practice aimed at understanding the world in which tradition and innovation have to find a balance. We conclude that this misunderstanding and its consequences do more to damage research integrity than fraudulent activities of individual researchers.

Open access

Affective relatedness, temporalities, and the politics of care in a medical South-South partnership

The Cuban mission in Brazil

Maria Lidola


For more than 50 years, Cuba has been one of the most important players in the field of international medical care in the Global South. Between 2013 and 2018, Cuba sent nearly 18,000 Cuban health professionals to Brazil within the framework of the More Doctors Program to assist during the Brazilian public health care system's state of emergency. This article focuses on local encounters and emergent socialities between Cuban physicians and Brazilian patients and medical staff. Their sensitive moments of interaction—with their embodied, emplaced, and political dimensions of past and present—hold the possibility of a fragile intersubjectivity that creates its own temporal and affective dynamics, undermining, for a moment, the prevalent care regimes.

Open access

After the boom

Petro-politics and the fate of revolution in Venezuela

Aaron Kappeler

Matthew Wilde, A blessing and a curse: Oil, politics, and morality in Venezuela. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2023.

Mariya Ivancheva, The alternative university: Lessons from Bolivarian Venezuela. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2023.

Open access

Afterword: From Number Politics to Infrastructure Politics

Notes on Context and Methods

Stefania Milan


Data infrastructures are the scaffolding of the present. This afterword centres on this claim by broadening the question that animates the special issue – what does lived data politics look like? – to the question of ‘where’ it is taking place today. It extends the gaze to the systemic transformation subtending contemporary data production, which I term ‘governance by data infrastructure.’ This pervasive form of number politics represents the most recent rearrangement in matters of governance of the social. It centers regulatory data infrastructures as the preferred mode of managing complexity, bringing the industry to the kernel of the state. Furthermore, the article asks what it means to think from an anthropological vantage point considering these developments, and what fruitful methodological avenues for research this may open.

Open access

Along the twilights of care

Continuities of technomoral politics in São Paulo's pro-migrant activism

Heike Drotbohm


This article explores central dimensions of different forms of asymmetric care that fall between the competences of overlapping civil society organizations. Based on anthropological fieldwork conducted in São Paulo, Brazil, the article follows migrants arriving and integrating across different nodes of reception, including church-based NGOs, humanitarian organizations, and activist housing projects. Overlaps between these different forms of reception, care, and control do not arise only when migrants refer to different organizational structures. Instead, numerous formal and organizational similarities complicate a clear separation of these domains of asymmetric care. By concentrating on incidents when the encounters between migrant activists and Brazilian activists are disturbed, this article traces the mutual irritation of differently positioned actors, who calibrate their moral claims and produce new understandings of “worthiness.”

Full access

An Attack on the Rule of Law in Israel

Suzie Navot and Guy Lurie


This article analyzes the implications of the proposals of the Minister of Justice and the Chair of the Knesset's Constitution Committee to overhaul the judiciary of Israel. These proposals, if legislated, will undermine basic principles of democracy, the rule of law, and the protection of human rights. In the absence of a complete formal constitution and its relatively weak system of checks and balances, Israel has developed several institutions that protect the rule of law and human rights, including a Supreme Court with the power of judicial review of legislation; a balanced and professional system for selecting judges; a strong legal civil service, with a relatively independent attorney general. The so-called legal reforms deal specifically with these institutions, and seek to weaken or annul them. As such, this judicial overhaul is tantamount to a revolutionary attempt to change the regime and would undermine the democratic character of Israel.