Alexei Yurchak

Alexei Yurchak's picture
Associate Professor
Special Interests: 
Discourse and power, language and social theory, theories of ideology, subjectivity, popular culture and ideology, Soviet and post-Soviet culture and society, post-socialism.

Alexei Yurchak's theoretical interests include the analysis of human agency and its interplay with language and discourses of power especially in post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe. He is particularly interested in the analysis of how ideologies (political, cultural, national, market, etc.) are projected on and work through language, and what methods of discourse analysis social scientists can use to unpack their discursive power. He is concerned with the cultural shifts brought forth by the collapse of the Soviet ideology, state institutions, and centralized economic principles and the formation of socialist and post-socialist identities and subject positions.


I received my Ph.D. in cultural and linguistic anthropology from Duke University in 1997 (after having received a graduate degree in physics from Russia). My interests and areas of expertise include Soviet history and the processes of post-socialist transformation in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; political institutions and ideologies in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia; political philosophy and language philosophy; the interface between language/discourse and power; comparative studies of communism and capitalism anthropology of media; visual anthropology; experimental artistic scenes (especially, Russia and US); urban geography and anthropology of space. I am both an Associate Professor in the UC Berkeley Department of Anthropology as well as a Core Faculty member in the graduate program at the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at UC Berkeley -- link:

119 Kroeber
Representative Publications: 

“If Lenin Were Alive, He Would Know What to Do: Naked Life of the Leader” - forthcoming in Qui Parle

“How Sergei Kuryokhin Proved that Lenin Was a Mushroom” - forthcoming in Slavic Review

“American Stiob: Or what late-socialist aesthetics of parody can teach us about contemporary political culture in the West,” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 25, n. 2, 2010. (with Dominic Boyer) Visual materials for this paper and an interview are available here:

“Necro-utopia: The Politics of Indistinction and the Art of the Non-Soviet,” Current Anthropology, vol. 49, n. 2, 2008.

“Postsocialist Studies, Cultures of Parody and American Stiob,” Anthropology News, November 2008. (with Dominic Boyer)

“Suspending the Political: Late Soviet artistic experiments on the margins of the state,” Poetics Today, Vol. 29, N. 4, 2008.

“Post-Post-Soviet Sincerity: Young pioneers, Cosmonauts and other Soviet heroes born today,” in What is Soviet Now? Thomas Lahusen and Peter Solomon, eds. LIT Verlag, 2008.

“Mimetic Critique of Ideology: Laibach and AVIA,” Chto Delat’, N. 19, Summer 2008:

“Dasha Fursey: Utopia at The Roof of the World,” Art Exhibition Catalog ‘At the Top of the World’. New York, Art Catalog, 2008.

“If Lenin Were Alive He Would Know What to Do: bare life of the leader,” New Literary Review, N. 83, Spring 2007. (in Russian)

“Late Socialism and the Last Soviet Generation,” Neprikosnovennyi Zapas, N. 2, vol. 52, 2007:

“Talk About Changes: The Deeds of Words and Words Without Deeds,” Round-table discussion of Nancy Ries’ book Russian Talk, Ethnographic Review, n. 5, 2006. (in Russian)

“Authoritative Discourse,” London Review of Books, vol. 28, n. 12, June 22, 2006 -- response to Sheila Fitzpatrick’s

“Normal People” review of my book in London Review of Books, vol. 28, n. 10, May 25, 2006.

“Night Dances With the Angel of History: Critical Cultural Studies of Postsocialism,” in Cultural Studies. Aleksandr Etkind, ed. St. Petersburg: European University Press, 2006. (in Russian)

“Soviet Hegemony of Form: Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 45, No. 3, July 2003. “Russian Neoliberal: The Entrepreneurial Ethic and the Spirit of New Careerism,” in Russian Review, vol. 62, no. 1, 2003.

“Entrepreneurial Governmentality in Post-Socialist Russia: A cultural investigation of business practices,” in The New Entrepreneurs of Europe and Asia, V. E. Bonnell and T. B. Gold, eds. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2002.

“Male Economy. Business and Gender in post-Soviet Russia,” in On (Fe)Maleness. Oushakine, Sergei, ed. Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2001 (in Russian).

“Male Economy. Business and Gender in post-Soviet Russia,” Neprekosnovennyi Zapas, n. 05, v. 19, 2001. – web link:

“Tracing a Woman's Image: Symbolic Work of the New Advertising Discourse,” in Woman and Visual Signs. Alchuk, Alla, ed. Moscow: Russian State Humanitarian University Press, 2000. (in Russian).

“Privatize Your Name: Symbolic Work in a Post-Soviet Linguistic Market,” in Journal of Sociolinguistics, vol. 4, n. 3, 2000.

“Gagarin and the Rave Kids: Transforming Power, Identity, and Aesthetics in the Post-Soviet Night Life,” in Consuming Russia: Popular Culture, Sex, and Society Since Gorbachev. A. Baker, ed. Duke University Press, 1999.

“The Cynical Reason of Late Socialism: Power, Pretense, and the Anekdot,” Public Culture, vol. 9, n. 2, 1997.

“The Myth of a Real Man and a Real Woman in Russian TV Advertising,” in Family, Gender, Culture. Tishkov, ed. Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Ethnology Center of the Russian State Humanitarian University. Moscow, 1997. (in Russian)

“Quick Cultural and Linguistic Production Among Recent Russian Immigrants in New York,” Kabinet, n. 10, 1995.