Russian-American activist, author Masha Gessen speaks at NAU in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day

photo of Gessen

Jan. 24, 2019

Russian-American activist, author and journalist Masha Gessen will present “The Future is History” at Northern Arizona University in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The talk, based on Gessen’s award-winning novel of the same name, takes place 7 p.m. Jan. 27 in Prochnow Auditorium.

“It is a rare opportunity for students at NAU to be exposed to such an active, intellectual mind, fearless journalist and also LGBTQ advocate, especially in the regions of Eastern Europe,” said Bjorn Krondorfer, director of the Martin-Springer Institute. “The talk will center on how the imagination of individuals and entire societies are shaped by what we remember, or the stories we can tell about what we remember.”

Described as Russia’s leading LGBT rights activist, Gessen will cross various disciplines, in the talk, which will be relevant to students in political science, journalism, history, international affairs, women and gender studies, photography, anthropology, humanities, health sciences, education, criminal justice, ethnic studies and sociology. Having lived as a journalist in Moscow with family ties to Polish and Russian Jewry during the Holocaust and Stalin’s reign, Gessen explores issues of political choice.

“Totalitarian regimes aim to make choice impossible,” Gessen said. “What interests me now is that I think resistance can take the shape of making a choice, even when the choice is framed as one between unacceptable options.”

As a regular contributor to The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair and Slate, Gessen follows the threats to democracy in Europa and America. Gessen also has appeared on Trevor Noah’s “The Daily Show” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

Gessen’s talk at NAU, facilitated by the Martin-Springer Institute, is free and open to the public.

Cheyenne Jarrette