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Broadcasting Russia

International Broadcasting and the Post-Soviet Russian-speaking Community 

Professor Stephen Hutchings and Dr Vitaly Kazakov (University of Manchester) investigate the media’s role in shaping the contours and values of, and reflecting tensions and fractures within, the post-Soviet Russian-speaking community. The project examines two major global media events centring on the post-Soviet space - Eurovision 2017 in Kiev and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia - and considers the following key issues: 

(a) the relationship between language and nationhood in the context of Russian as a universalising lingua franca; (b) post-Soviet cultural affinities and conflicts; (c) the transnational negotiation of socio-cultural and political values; (d) post-Soviet collective memory; (e) tensions between ethnic and post-imperial identities; (f) common news agendas (including ‘information war’ narratives); (g) Europe in the post-Soviet imagination; (h) the Russian-speaking community’s conceptions of the relationship between the cosmopolitan, the transnational and the national. 

These issues are treated in three interlinked dimensions: 

1) programmes broadcast by Russia’s Channel 1 and RT; 2) the ‘remediation’ of their content via new media web-based platforms, including YouTube and Twitter (employing media discourse analysis); 3) audience responses to this output (using social media analytics and focus group methods). 

The overarching framework for the analysis reflects the principle that the national and the transnational mutually constitute one another in a process that is ongoing, performative and perpetually self-renewing, and that language is key to that process. The project is, moreover, particularly interested in digital memory ecologies, specifically in Russophone community recollections of global ‘mega-events’. 

As a follow-up to research on Eurovision 2017, work is currently also being carried out on the Russophone community's reactions to the cancellation of Eurovision 2020 in light of the COVID-19 crisis. This includes the collection of Tweets around a series of ‘virtual’ events that have been organised in compensation. Initial preparations are currently being made for a grant application under the UKRI call for responses to its COVID-19 call to complete this work. Also planned, in collaboration with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), is a further project centring on the role of state and sub-state actors in the circulation of disinformation generated by pandemics. 

For more information about this project contact: stephen.hutchings@manchester.ac.uk.