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Talk: 'the pursuit of distinction and the justification of privilege': the Russian elite in 1815 and 2015

This talk will compare and contrast the Russian aristocracy of the early nineteenth century with Putin's oligarchs, focusing on the ways these elites account for their privileges and understand the "service" they render to society, as well as the narratives they develop to justify why they should be treated as equals by the West.  Our sources will range from private correspondences between aristocrats to extensive interviews with a sample of 60 wealthy entrepreneurs and their families. Are the Russian oligarchs a new aristocracy or do they legitimate themselves differently?

Professor Andreas Schönle teaches at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of three monographs and numerous articles. His latest book Architecture of Oblivion: Ruins and Historical Consciousness in Modern Russia won two book prizes. He is currently researching the paradoxes and contradictions in the subjective world view of the Russian elite between 1762 and 1825. 


Dr. Elisabeth Schimpfössl, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Leverhulme Fellow, teaching Russian Politics at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. Schimpfössl’s current research, which has been published, for example, in the British Journal of Sociology, focuses on Russia's rich and on elite philanthropy. Schimpfössl has also conducted collaborative research into Russian media and journalism.


This is a GB Russia Society event and tickets are only available from their website at: .  Booking for non-members of the GB Russia Society opens on Friday 22 April.