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Svetlana Cecovic's Talk at Jyväskylä University, Finland

Assistant Professor of School of Philology at Conference on East-West Cultural Relations

On 24-25 February, 2017, the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, hosted the international conference "East-West Cultural Relations: Interplay of Arts and Cultural Diplomacy, 1945-2017". Assistant professor Svetlana Cecovic gave a talk entitled “This is what my century looks like”: Cultural diplomacy of the Russian Princess Zinaïda Schakovskoy (1906-2001)”

Princess Zinaïda Schakovskoy, journalist, writer, and translator played a role of a cultural mediator between Russian emigration and western intellectual milieus starting from the early 1930s. A real protector and friend of Russian writers as Nabokov, Bounine, Tzvetaeva and many others, she constantly promoted their work in Belgian and Parisian reviews. In order to provide a moral and material help for Russian intellectuals, she developed friendships and kept in contact with representatives of almost all political parties and ideological groups in Belgium (Catholics, socialists, communists, Belgian fascists-rexists): “I think that we were almost the only ones in Brussels to disregard, in our invitations, political affiliations” (A way of living, 1965). Her tireless and original work on promoting an “authentic” Russia, “free” of western stereotypes begins with her book Life of A. Pushkin(Vie d A. Pushkin) published by the press of La Cite Chrétienne(The Christian City), Belgian catholic journal of social action.

The Second World War nursing sister in Paris, French reporter in London in 1941, journalist who attended Nuremberg trials in 1945, the princess Schakovskoy wrote about these experience in order to present her own vision of Europe’s destiny after 1945. Svetlana Cecovic's contribution to the conference aimed to highlight personal and ideological dimension of her cultural diplomacy. Trying to diminish the ideological and cultural gap between Russia and the West she constantly writes about her own cross- cultural experience and her intimate connection both to Russia and to the West. “I am a French writer but a Russian woman” (1993).