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K. (Ksenia) Robbe, Dr

Assistant professor/Senior lecturer (UD 1)
Profile picture of K. (Ksenia) Robbe, Dr

My research sits at the intersection of postcolonial and postsocialist studies, with the focus on the changing frameworks of memory and time-making; gender relations and transformations of feminism; and transnational connectivity that aims at social justice.

My current work revolves around the practices of remembering (late 20th-century) decolonization, revolutions or ‘transitions’. I explore how memories – when shared and creatively engaged, whether in vernacular or mediated contexts – can produce new perspectives on the past that voice untold stories, interlink varied experiences, and make possible identifications around more egalitarian values. I study how such memories are (re)shaped in cultural productions (literature, film, theatre, visual art, and exhibitions). I’m also interested in how these memories are further mediated via reading, watching, and discussion. The primary contexts of my research are Russian/Russophone and South(ern) African cultures, and I have a special interest in comparing processes across these postsocialist and postcolonial sites.

In the context of memory politics and processes in post-1994 South Africa, I’ve written on the politics of postmemory and nostalgia (and gender) in contemporary literature and theatre; on remembering late-apartheid activism in literature and art, particularly during the time of the 2015-16 student protests (here and here); on the changing practices of remembering the violence of decolonization/ transition; and on re-mediating community arts in recent exhibitions (forthcoming).

In the Russian context, I’ve been exploring memories of late socialism, childhood and the uses of nostalgia for contesting official memory (here and here); remembering the October revolution and perestroika in contemporary activist art; and memories of the 1990s in the 2020 protests in Belarus (with Andrei Zavadski, forthcoming).

I’m currently editing a volume titled Remembering Transitions: Local Revisions and Global Crossings in Culture and Media (under contract with De Gruyter) with chapters examining mediated memories of the 1970s-1980s-early 1990s ‘transitions’ in countries of Eastern and Southern Europe, Southern Africa, Latin America, and East Asia.

The collaboratively written chapter of the volume (Un)timely Crises: Chronotopes and Critique (co-edited with Maria Boletsi, Kasia Mika and Natashe Lemos Dekker) contains some initial reflections on remembering ‘crises’ – a theme I continue exploring in my current research.

The volume Post-Soviet Nostalgia: Confronting the Empire’s Legacies (co-edited with Otto Boele and Boris Noordenbos) brings together chapters discussing the production and mediation of nostalgia in museums, literature, film, and popular culture and proposes categories for understanding the contemporary dynamics of nostalgia in Russia. The Introduction can be found here.

A new direction of my research which I develop in parallel and in conjunction with my studies of memory is contemporary feminist writing in Russian. It builds upon my earlier work on generational relations in South African women’s writing, published as Conversations of Motherhood: South African Women’s Writing Across Traditions (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2015) and on the above-mentioned research on postmemory.

Part of this emerging line of research is my collaborative research with Senka Neuman-Stanivukovic and Judith Naeff on time and memory in the practices of feminist strike.

Research groups and collaborative projects

From 2021 until 2024, I am a PI of the research project “Reconstituting Publics through Remembering Transitions” conducted together with Agnieszla Mrozik (Polish Academy of Sciences), Andrei Zavadski (HU Berlin) and Alexander Formozov (Project Transition Dialogue). The project has been awarded a NETIAS Constructive Advanced Thinking grant.  

I’m a co-chair and founding member of the Postsocialist and Comparative Memory Studies (PoSoCoMeS) Working group of the Memory Studies Association that was initiated in 2018. In 2020, I participated in organizing the WG's first conference planned to take place in Chisinau, Moldova, but eventually conducted online, as member of the Programme and Organizing committees. 

Since 2021, I cooridnate, together with Hanneke Stuit, the research group Theories from the South and the East in Literature and Culture of the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies. 


Last modified:29 August 2023 4.10 p.m.