Alisa Ganieva: challenging the Russian narrative

On the 14th April 2016, the award winning Russian writer and journalist, Alisa Ganieva, spoke in a Free Word Centre discussion of her writing and identities, tensions, cultural traditions and gender roles in the Russian Republic of Dagestan.

The language of the discussion was English and you can find a full recording of the evening on this page. This event took place as part of Free Word’s Unravelling Europe series and you can also find more information on and links to events in this series at the bottom of the page. 

Theme / Speakers / Recording / Unravelling Europe

About the discussion:

On the edge of the continent, Russia nevertheless makes its presence felt in Europe and this event provided a unique opportunity to hear from a young voice with much to say about ethnic tensions, gender roles and multiple identities in the diverse Caucasus region of Russia’s south.

Speaking to Kirsty Lang and Imtiaz Dharker, Alisa Ganieva presented the background to her writing, telling the audience about life in the ethnically and linguistically diverse Russian Republic of Dagestan.

In particular, the discussion focused on Alisa’s third novel, The Mountain and the Wall, looking at how it highlights the linguistic and cultural complexities as well as the political currents within the region, based, as it is, on actual proposals for a cordon sanitaire around the unstable North Caucasus.

Furthermore, Imtiaz and Alisa noted and discussed similarities between their writing and the communities they come from. Both writers spoke of how they have experienced hostility from their families and other members of the tight-knit communities they write about, with accusations of betrayal being a common theme. Similarly, both explored the complex ways in which younger generations searching for their own identities often actually come to reformulate the ways in which their communities identify themselves, based on misconceptions of their cultural origins.

To find out about all these matters and more, listen to the recording of the evening at the top of this page.

People who are interested in this event may well also be interested in other events in Free Word’s Unravelling Europe series and more information can be found on the series both here and on Free Word’s own page for the series.


Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and documentary film-maker.

Alisa Ganieva is a journalist and author, originally from Dagestan in the south of Russia


Kirsty Lang is a presenter of Radio 4’s flagship arts programme Front Row.

Unravelling Europe:

This event is part of Free Word‘s new series, Unravelling Europe. This series recognises that increasing societal fragmentation, fuelled by anxiety and fear, threatens the very conditions and values that underpin our open, democratic societies and looks to put artists at the heart of discussions which set out to ask: why is this so, what are the consequences and how might we act to counter them?

To find out more about Unravelling Europe and the series of events which it comprises, visit Free Word at: