Moscow’s Levada Institute, which is run by Lev Gudkov,has over the years provided a treasure trove of vitals statistics regarding Russian trends, most published exclusively in east. The trend continues in this issue, which sees Levada focus its attention on how the world of the former Soviet Union perceives the 21st century West. Though some of the results are predictable, if not clichéd (considered myth-induced views of Western efficiency), what’s striking instead is the widespread resentment, even among youth. Many Russians apparently consider themselves unjustly penalized by their own backwardness, as if it the condition had been imposed by foreign conspirators.
Our Dossier focuses on China. Though examining China has become something of hackneyed theme, the intent here is specific and three-fold. First, to examine the country’s economy; second, its educational system; and finally, relations with Taiwan, which Beijing still seeks to incorporate. Writers Stefano Chiarlone, Claudia Astarita and Simone Pieranni examine China in the context of those issues. On the economics front, Fabio Mucci and Roberta Priore probe the state of Eastern European businesses in the long shadow of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. This issue is especially rich in hands-on reporting. Italian TV journalist Amedeo Ricucci reflects on the role hotels have played in the lives of foreign correspondents over the decades. Matteo Tacconi takes a look at how Istanbul was perceived by two notable Italian writers, Edmondo De Amicis and Corrado Alvaro, who visited it in the 19th and early 20 centuries, respectively. Finally, we offer two photo essays, each one different in scope. Donatella Caristina’s images help illuminate Russia in winter, with a companion piece by Cristina Giuliano, who reflects on the literary history of Mother Russia. Giorgio Magistrelli, in turn, offers a poignant portrait of children in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. His images close out a Dossier whose attention is trained less on folklore than on humanity.
For decades, journalists from all over the world have camped out in major hotels to cover wars and civil strife. But putting so many newsmen and women in one place has often yielded the worst possible result: Bored reporters producing news to fit the needs of an imagined public. Scarcity of news has also led to the peddling of pure fiction.
A number of nations are attempting to act on proposals presented by the so-called Stiglitz Commission, which was charged with examining the prospects for measuring national wellbeing outside the longstanding context of GDP. At the same time, establishing common indicators to measure happiness has proved daunting. The most promising moves may come from a Franco-German panel that has recommended a ‘dashboard’ of economic and social measurements in an effort to determine the mood of a nation and its people.
Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi has set most of his films in his native Kurdistan. He insists he turned to filmmaking not for love of the genre but to spread the cause of Kurdish independence. He compares Kurdistan to a girl who stepped on a landmine. But since he started making movies a decade ago, he’s won two special prizes from the Cannes Film Festival and earned international acclaim.
In an effort to make inroads in global trade, Italian businesses are revising their approach to competition. They are being assisted by data compiled by local and foreign-based chambers of commerce, whose recommendations have been broadcast nationwide. Not surprisingly, Italy’s leading competitor is China. For now, Italy is focusing on winning over and holding Mediterranean nations.
Following the 2001 release of his book “Armageddon averted: The Soviet Collapse,” Stephen Kotkin, director of the Russian Studies at Princeton University, continued probing the collapse of the Communist system.