From Russia with Code

Programming Migrations in Post-Soviet Times

Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: Published: May 2019

Anthropology, European Studies > Eastern Europe and Russia, Science and Technology Studies

While Russian computer scientists are notorious for their interference in the 2016 US presidential election, they are ubiquitous on Wall Street and coveted by international IT firms and often perceive themselves as the present manifestation of the past glory of Soviet scientific prowess. Drawing on over three hundred in-depth interviews, the contributors to From Russia with Code trace the practices, education, careers, networks, migrations, and lives of Russian IT professionals at home and abroad, showing how they function as key figures in the tense political and ideological environment of technological innovation in post-Soviet Russia. Among other topics, they analyze coders' creation of both transnational communities and local networks of political activists; Moscow's use of IT funding to control peripheral regions; brain drain and the experiences of coders living abroad in the United Kingdom, United States, Israel, and Finland; and the possible meanings of Russian computing systems in a heterogeneous nation and industry. Highlighting the centrality of computer scientists to post-Soviet economic mobilization in Russia, the contributors offer new insights into the difficulties through which a new entrepreneurial culture emerges in a rapidly changing world.

Contributors. Irina Antoschyuk, Mario Biagioli, Ksenia Ermoshina, Marina Fedorova, Andrey Indukaev, Alina Kontareva, Diana Kurkovsky, Vincent Lépinay, Alexandra Masalskaya, Daria Savchenko, Liubava Shatokhina, Alexandra Simonova, Ksenia Tatarchenko, Zinaida Vasilyeva, Dimitrii Zhikharevich


“The most striking achievement of this in so many ways outstanding book rests in its ethnographic accounts of the RCS [Russian Computer Scientists] as a new type of power-knowledge intellectual…. The book is easy on technical language and should be accessible to a wide readership beyond Russian studies.” — Dušan I. Bjelic, Slavic Review

From Russia with Code is a deeply informative book about the diaspora of talented Russian computer scientists who now are working in other countries: the United States, Israel, Germany, and elsewhere. It reveals the interaction between Russian computer culture and that of other countries. But it is much more than that: it tells us that computer science is not a single thing, but a skill that blossoms differently in different environments.” — Loren Graham, Professor of the History of Science Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Russian computer scientists are everywhere heard about, but nowhere studied—until this book. No other study in English takes up the electrifying topic of information technology and hackers in Russia and grounds it in the hard dirt of evidence. From Russia with Code demystifies a national powerhouse for global computing and will set the standard for years to come in Russia-based science and technology studies. The world needs this pioneering book.” — Benjamin Peters, author of How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet


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Price: $29.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mario Biagioli is Distinguished Professor of Law, Science and Technology Studies, and History at the University of California, Davis.

Vincent Lépinay is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Medialab at Sciences Po (Paris).

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Abbreviations  vii
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: Russian Economies of Code / Mario Biagioli and Vincent Lépinay  1
I. Coding Collectives
1. Before the Collapse: Programming Cultures in the Soviet Union / Ksenia Tatarchenko  39
2. From Lurker to Ninja: Creating an IT Community at Yandex / Marina Fedorova  59
3. For Code and Country: Civic Hackers in Contemporary Russia / Ksenia Ermoshina  87
II. Outward-Looking Enclaves
4. At the Periphery of the Empire: Recycling Japanese Cars into Vladivostok's IT Communuity / Alexandra Masalskaya and Zinaida Vasilyeva  113
5. Kazan Connected: "IT-ing Up" a Province / Alina Kontareva  145
6. Hackerspaces and Technoparks in Moscow / Aleksandra Simonova  167
7. Siberian Software Developers / Andrey Inkukaev  195
8. E-Estonia Reprogrammed: Nation Branding and Children Coding / Daria Savchenko  213
III. Interlude: Russian Maps
9. Post-Soviet Ecosystems of IT / Dmitrii Zhikharevich  231
IV. Bridges and Mismatches
10. Migrating Step by Step: Russian Computer Specialists in the UK / Irina Antoschyuk  271
11. Brain Drain and Boston's "Upper-Middle Tech" / Diana Kurkovsky West  297
12. Jews in Russia and Russians in Israel / Marina Fedorova  319
13. Russian Programmers in Finland: Self-Presentation in Migration Narratives / Lyubava Shatokhina  347
Contributors  365
Index  369
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0299-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0184-3
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