Understanding the use of Kompromat in Russian Politics: An Excerpt from Alena V. Ledeneva’s “How Russia Really Works”

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“To keep kompromat on enemies is a pleasure. To keep kompromat on friends is a must.”

The word kompromat has no direct equivalent in English. Its literal translation—“compromising material”—refers to discrediting information that can be collected, stored, traded, or used strategically across all domains: political, electoral, legal, professional, judicial, media, or business. A recent dictionary of contemporary terminology defines kompromat as an abbreviated term for disparaging documents on a person subject to investigation, suspicion, or blackmail, derived from 1930s secret police jargon. In its contemporary context, the term is strongly associated with kompromat wars—intrigues exercised through the release of often unsubstantiated or unproven information (documents, materials)—which are damaging for all those involved.


The term is strongly associated with kompromat wars—intrigues exercised through the release of often unsubstantiated or unproven information—which are damaging for all those involved.


Hungarian sociologist Akos Szilagyi defines kompromat as the publication (or blackmail with the threat of publication) of information, documents, evidence, and revelations that are related to a genre of denunciation (donos), exposure/unmasking (razoblachenie), slander (kleveta), and allegations that can destroy or neutralize political opponents or business competitors. He notes that kompromat is associated with political indecency, and points to the double meaning of the suffix mat, which is an abbreviation of the Russian word materialy (materials) as well as a Russian word for “swear language.” In English, the essence of kompromat is best grasped by the phrase “blackmail files” that are gathered or fabricated for political or business purposes.

Continue reading “Understanding the use of Kompromat in Russian Politics: An Excerpt from Alena V. Ledeneva’s “How Russia Really Works””

Understanding the use of Kompromat in Russian Politics: An Excerpt from Alena V. Ledeneva’s “How Russia Really Works”

DOC MARTYN’S SAGE MARKETING: Shifting the POD Paradigm

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What if we’re missing the real revolution of Print on Demand?

Think about it. With POD we could:

  • Make almost real-time edits and updates to a book
  • Feed content from a blog or website straight into a book
  • Create a system for marginalia printed in a book
  • Change content based on critique
  • Change a cover to suit audience taste more easily
  • Personalize every copy of a book

Why would we want to use print books in this way? Isn’t it better to simply allow digital platforms to handle this kind of change? On some level, absolutely. Print books can’t do what digital ones do; they can’t be changed or edited in real time. But what if we tried to mimic the digital experience as closely as we can in print books? How would that affect how we perceive the printed book? In other words, it’s time to flip the print-to-digital paradigm on its head and see if we can apply some digital-like assets to a printed product. Continue reading “DOC MARTYN’S SAGE MARKETING: Shifting the POD Paradigm”

DOC MARTYN’S SAGE MARKETING: Shifting the POD Paradigm

Remembering Susan Christopherson

My colleagues and I at Cornell University Press were saddened to learn that Susan Christopherson, Professor and Chair of City and Regional Planning at Cornell, died on Wednesday, December 14. In the obituary posted on the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning website, her faculty colleagues celebrate her excellent research and writing, her commitment to equity in our communities, and her tireless work as an administrator, teacher, and mentor. At the Press my colleagues and I saw those qualities of mind and character displayed in her role as a fair and exacting referee on book manuscripts. My predecessor, Peter Wissoker, and I benefited greatly from her dedication to supporting projects that brought theoretical innovation to grounded research as we built a list of titles in that melded political economy approaches to geography with urban studies. Susan was an indispensable and savvy critic, and a champion of worthy projects in the rough that needed just a little more editorial attention. When my energy flagged on a book she cared about, Susan would jump in and revive the project and push both editor and author to work a bit harder. I cannot imagine a better partnership between editor and faculty member. Susan will be missed be me and by my future authors.

—Michael

Michael McGandy is a Senior Editor at Cornell University Press.

Remembering Susan Christopherson

The Poetry of Everyday Life #PlaceMoment Twitter Giveaway

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Who are we without the drive to discover?

Steve Zeitlin, in The Poetry of Everyday Life, helps us to maximize our capacity for fulfillment and expression by tapping into the beauty and meaning inherent in everyday life.

In our “place moment” blog post we discussed some of the specific ways Zeitlin prompts his writing students to access their inner expressive selves—their “everyday poet”—and how these prompts can begin to make poetry accessible to those who may not otherwise believe they have the capacity to write creatively.

We at Cornell University Press believe that Zeitlin’s book can be a valuable tool for our local educators, not only to teach the practice of writing, but also to bring forward our community’s stories and therefore its identity. To that end, we’re planning to donate ten copies of his book to our favorite local educators and educational nonprofits.

Help us take part in this campaign to give back to our community! Quote-tweet any of our #PlaceMoment tweets by mentioning who you think should receive our contest prize: ten copies of Zeitlin’s book to use for their work. We suggest these organizations listed below, but you can nominate a worthy nonprofit in your own community.

After tweeting your choice, you will have created one entry for that organization to be selected at random to win. You must be following @CornellPress to enter. We reserve the right to grant prizes to multiple organizations. The contest will end December 23rd, 2016. Please contact us if you have any questions!

—Lexie

Alexis (Lexie) Farabaugh is an intern at Cornell University Press who loves to photosynthesize in the spring. Follow her on Twitter @lexievirginia.

80140100767700lThe Poetry of Everyday Life: Storytelling and the Art of Awareness
By Steve Zeitlin
$26.00 hardcover

Buy this book

The Poetry of Everyday Life #PlaceMoment Twitter Giveaway

Outbox: What makes a book timely?

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Ski chalet, Nevele Grande Hotel, Ellenville, New York. Photograph by Marisa Scheinfeld.

Book editors are notorious for having too much to read and edit, running behind schedule, and, generally, holding up brilliant work that should have been published yesterday. Whether we are seen as imperious gatekeepers whose ways remain hidden behind in-house processes or as antiquated bureaucrats dithering at our desks, there is a general sense that authors as well as readers are unfairly beholden to our jam-packed schedules.

There is some truth to those assessments, of course. And of late I have been keenly aware of these critical (and sometimes contemptuous) evaluations of the work of editors. Coming back to my desk after six weeks of personal leave, and facing hundreds of emails and tens of overdue commitments, has reminded me of how many people are waiting, some patiently and some less so, on word from me about their book projects.


There is a sense of timeliness that is about the inherent quality of the work—the time a work needs and not what the events of our times might mean for its reception and relevance.


I have also been reflecting on the whole idea of the timeliness of books and the time that it takes to make books, particularly excellent books. Recent political events have turned over lots of publishing ideas with once-important books fated for irrelevancy on their first day of sale on Amazon, and editors and authors chasing after the new hot topic associated with the Trump presidency. Timeliness is, indeed, fickle. Continue reading “Outbox: What makes a book timely?”

Outbox: What makes a book timely?

Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: Reading is Power

Reading is power, because knowledge gives us the tools to think more widely about the things that confront us on a daily basis. In the aftermath of the presidential election many thousands of think pieces, blogs, articles, and much more have been written to rejoice, despair, cajole, criticize, and much else. Many of us read those pieces with minds perhaps already formed, or perhaps not completely open to new ideas. Such an approach is understandable; we seek out information that fits how we view the world or how we wish to view it. We don’t always seek out knowledge that pushes the boundaries of what we already perceive.

One of my jobs as marketing director is to introduce people to new information. Essentially, every time my team and I start marketing a new book we must seek a way to get someone to engage with content that they might not know about, be immediately interested in, or consider within the scope of their desire to know. Every book has a core audience, of course. Each author has written his or her book with that audience in mind. But there are often also audiences that do not immediately seem applicable. It is our job as marketers to find those people so that we can introduce them to the content and, we hope, expand their view of the world. Continue reading “Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: Reading is Power”

Doc Martyn’s Sage Marketing: Reading is Power

With its corruption crackdown, China is also stamping out innovation

Yuen Yuen Ang, University of Michigan

Guo Yongchang, party secretary of a rural county in China’s Henan province, did not fit the stereotype of a corrupt Chinese official. Featured in the documentary, The Transition Period, he was revealed as an overworked and genuinely dedicated leader. Every day, he toiled from dawn to dusk, courting investors, inspecting construction projects, and resolving social conflicts, both big and small.

Yet the final seconds of the film reveals a twist: shortly before retiring, Guo was found guilty of taking bribes and sentenced to seven years in prison. Guo’s story reflects a broader reality in China: economic development and corruption goes hand-in-hand. Local leaders take on overwhelming responsibilities. They actively seek out growth opportunities for their locales, exercise power, and in the process, profit themselves too.

Once that’s understood, it’s clear that President Xi Jinping has set himself up with an impossible task: keep the economy humming under state domination, while trying to eradicate corruption. Continue reading “With its corruption crackdown, China is also stamping out innovation”

With its corruption crackdown, China is also stamping out innovation

It Takes a Village: Eight Tips for Surviving in the Age of Amazon

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Buffalo Street Books: saving the world, one bookstore at a time.

It’s University Press Week at AAUP, and we’re excited to participate in the annual UP Week Blog Tour. This year’s theme is “community,” and today’s posts focus on IndieBound, the community of independent bookstores. Find more great reads at our partner presses: University of Texas PressUniversity of Calgary Press, University Press of ColoradoSeminary Co-op BookstoresMcGill-Queen’s University PressDuke University PressNYU PressUniversity Press of Kentucky, and University Press of Kansas.

Next door to Greenstar, Ithaca’s cooperative natural foods market, and down the hall from the legendary Moosewood Restaurant, you’ll find Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca’s cooperatively owned bookstore. In these hard times for the publishing industry, our conspicuously literate college town of 30,000 (50,000 when you include Cornell and Ithaca College’s student bodies) has but four brick and mortar stand-alone bookstores left within its city limits, each staking out its territory: used and rare, science fiction and fantasy, big box, and independent new. Continue reading “It Takes a Village: Eight Tips for Surviving in the Age of Amazon”

It Takes a Village: Eight Tips for Surviving in the Age of Amazon

The Deer Is OK

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“Readings, dancing, food, wine, poets, and fans” at City Lore’s 30th anniversary party and book signing (Photo: E. B. Gallardo)

The Poetry of Everyday Life, by Steve Zeitlin, hit the stores this month. The book is a lovely meditation on the nooks and crannies of daily life where poetic moments are nestled. Throughout the book the reader meets poets who have captured and paid homage to those moments. A few weeks ago I got to hear some of those poets in person as they read from the book in a lively and jam-packed book party on the Lower East Side in Manhattan at City Lore, where Steve is founding director.


One night I had a dream in which I tried to navigate the narrative of my dream using the Word toolbars (both Standard and Formatting).


We manuscript editors spend our days with manuscripts and page proofs, e-mail and monitors; some of us don’t get out much, or at least as often as some of our colleagues in other departments. One night I had a dream in which I tried to navigate the narrative of my dream using the Word toolbars (both Standard and Formatting). So I thought, when you get an opportunity to attend an event for a book you got to know really well during the editing and production process and see what actually happens when it hits the world, along with a chance to get down to the city, it is a good idea to seize it! Continue reading “The Deer Is OK”

The Deer Is OK