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Lectures

Science Skepticism as a Veneer for Nationalistic Humor

This article is part of the following series:

Recently we saw a splash of headlines about the Russian Covid-19 vaccine, as Russia became the first country to register a vaccine and governmental officials shared plans for starting mass vaccinations in October. This news was shared all over my social media, with the commentary hewing to repetitive jokes, the humor value of which was based on an implied shared …

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Lectures

COVID 19 in the life of elderly people in rural Russia: A crisis of confidence, backed up by fear

This article is part of the following series:

At the heart of this ethnography are two stories of my informants, Ekaterina and Marina, who live in the countryside, in Karelia (a province in north-west Russia) and have various chronic diseases. The age of Ekaterina is 75 years; Marina is 84. All names in these ethnographic accounts are anonymized. Conversations with informants took place over the phone so as …

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Books Features

Book Forum: Tomas Matza’s Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity, and Well-Being in Postsocialist Russia

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In Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity, and Well-Being in Postsocialist Russia (Duke University Press, 2018), Tomas Matza traces the landscape of “psy” disciplines, practices, and institutions across postsocialist Saint Petersburg. Writing with a distinctive conceptual subtlety and care, Matza pushes beyond a range of well-established interpretations to examine the multiple ways in which psychotherapy has provided tools for people to understand …

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Books

Comments on Tomas Matza’s Shock Therapy

Of the many vivid and beautifully recounted scenes in Shock Therapy, one made an immediate and lasting impression on me. Matza has found himself at a group training session that features “body-oriented therapy,” sitting across from his friend Vera. Their joint task—silent, eyes closed, only hands touching—is to make “hand sculptures” that illustrate emotions proffered by their instructor Olya: …

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Books

Tomas Matza’s Shock Therapy

In Shock Therapy, Tomas Matza explores the terrain of psychosocial care and the ways in which people forge “psychosociality” in conditions not of their own choosing. Perhaps the most powerful contribution in this rich text is the question of how postsocialist contexts are shaped by the “accumulation of conditionality—maybe, could, would,” (p.5). Matza does an excellent job of …

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Books

The Politics of Psychosociality

Shock Therapy is a remarkable ethnography that effectively weaves together new psychological practices, concerns about well-being, shifting modes of power, and the remaking of the self and sociality in postsocialist Russia at a time marked by profound changes, precarity, and social anxiety. Beautifully crafted and written, it brings the readers into vivid and intimate ethnographic settings while offering numerous careful …

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