Seeing “Red” (Orange Is The New Black) – Russian Women, US Homonationalism and New Cold War Cultures
Languages of publication
This article investigates visual, bodily, and cultural representations of Russian women in public media and takes the TV character ‘Red’ from the popular American TV show Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) as an example. The central points of discussion are the figure’s racialisation and culturalisation. This article analyses how Red’s body, mindset, and character are produced as Russian against the background of contemporary new Cold War discourses. It argues that Red is staged as a racialised Russian other, through the emphasis on her gendered heterosexual body, within a sexually and racially diverse group of imprisoned Americans in the show. Moreover, her presentation within such a diverse group also serves to present or confirm the US nation as liberal, sexually diverse, and modern by contrasting it with Red’s strongly gendered and heterosexual body, which appears old-fashioned and from the past (also depicted as the Russian present). Referring to recent literature on the exotification and othering of Eastern European and Russian women as well as works on ethnicity and whiteness in the USA, this article is situated at the intersection of considerations of the specific racialisation of Eastern female bodies and queer and feminist discourses.
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