Briefly, in two to three sentences, summarize your current research.
I am working on mapping, graphing, and otherwise visualizing the connections between samizdat (underground publications in the Soviet bloc during the Cold War) and tamizdat (emigre publications during this same period outside of the Soviet bloc). I see my work as part of a larger movement to uncover connections and points of contact between East & West during the Cold War. I'm also very interested in how these patterns of cross-border movements of text and ideas manifest in the post-socialist period, and in other regions.
Which areas do you feel occupy the borders of your discipline? What lies just beyond those limits? How does considering those divisions impact your research practice?
Right now I am working in a Slavic Department, and I feel those boundaries very strongly on a regular basis (not within my department, which is a kind of an oasis, but in the field as a whole). Slavic Studies is largely circumscribed by the Russophone world, which means that if you work in a language other than Russian you have a limited audience and a marginalized position with the field. I am in fact on the very Western border of "Slavic Studies" per se, and then on top of that I am trying to erase that border (the Iron Curtain) with my work. Furthermore, the fact that one of my languages (Hungarian) is not even a Slavic language is itself a provocation.
This is not just a question of language and imperial hegemony as it is experienced in the region itself; it has just as much to do with how the field was shaped during the Cold War, when the study of Slavic languages was weaponized as an instrument of soft power to fight the USSR.
Just beyond the limits of those borders is Europe. Many of the writers and cultural figures I write about are very adamantly repositioning themselves in Europe (and in their words, not a part of the "barbaric East"). That in itself is interesting, and not uncomplicated when we talk about a move from the margins, across a political border, into the center to fulfill a very Eurocentric view of the world.
Even more interesting is connecting some of the peripheries with each other. Witness: the cross-disciplinary seminar I've been involved in for the last year comparing the Balkans and South Asia, which has opened several interesting lines of inquiry about how we study non-Western areas.
Then there's a multi-institutional initiative I'm working on in Polish-Jewish Studies. There are some strong resistances to this combined field from both sides of the equation.
Lastly, I'll just briefly bring up the methodological border I am simultaneously working around: literary studies as based in philology, i.e., lone scholars studying the single-author text. I have chosen to conduct about half of my work collaboratively, at times with a foot in the digital humanities (in my case, this means gathering and analyzing data on a larger scale about literary movements and the circulation of texts). But that is a border that I cross and re-cross every day, moving back and forth between more 'traditional' hermeneutic reading of texts and techniques borrowed from the social sciences.
Where do you position your research in relation to others within your discipline? Do you see those lines of demarcation at times becoming blurred?
I am definitely an anomaly geographically. My research in the digital humanities has put me in a tiny little "avant-garde" movement within my field, which is embraced by some and maligned by others as a trend that will bring about the death of theory. (Not true!) I've been involved in two projects lately that defined themselves geographically as studying "Eurasia," which is a great way of blurring many borders in between.
What research topics are you interested in exploring when you are not doing ‘work-related’ research?
That's hard to answer. Does this mean what type of work would I be interested in learning about? Digital art and design! Really! And practically anything connected with film studies.