In late January and early February, Gertjan Plets, a cultural anthropologist based at the University of Utrecht, spent nearly a week at IU as a visiting scholar with the Russian Studies Workshop, the Ostrom Workshop, and REEI. A specialist in such areas as the role of cultural heritage in global politics and the interaction of energy infrastructure and indigenous Siberian politics, Professor Plets has conducted extensive field work in Georgia, Russia’s Altai Republic, and China. During the course of his visit, he delivered three presentations.
On Monday, January 29, Professor Plets presented his “Well-oiled cultural politics in the Altai Republic: Indigenous heritage politics in Gazprom’s resource colonies” to the Ostrom Workshop. The paper drew upon the Plets’ field research to explore from an ethnographic perspective the neoliberal elements in cultural politics of Russia’s “indigenous resource frontiers” and especially the mutually beneficial relationship between Gazprom and specific ethnic groups in Siberia, whereby the former funds archeological museums and the repatriation of indigenous remains in return for a “license to operate” to construct a strategic pipeline to China.
In “Violins and trowels for Palmyra: Post-conflict cultural diplomacy and the Russian Federation,” a public lecture delivered on Wednesday, January 31 in the auditorium of the School of Global and International Studies, Professor Plets addressed the use of ‘heritage diplomacy’ to further Russian state aims in Syria as well as Crimea, drawing comparisons with heritage politics in other post-conflict settings such as Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Mali and demonstrating how the manipulation of culture can serve the exercise of both “soft” and “hard” power.
In addition to these two presentations, Professor Plets led a session for REEI Networks! on February 1, discussing with IU students the finer points of his field work in Siberia and Georgia. He addressed such relevant issues as language barriers, working with authorities, archival research, and selection of programs and universities relevant to one’s respective research.
A complete list of Dr. Plets' publications can be accessed here: https://uu.academia.edu/GertjanPlets