A selection of 150 cities within Slavs and Tatars’ Eurasian remit, Love Me, Love Me Not: Changed Names plucks the petals off the past to reveal an impossibly thorny stem: a lineage of names changed by the course of the region’s grueling history. Some cities divulge a resolutely Asian heritage, so often forgotten in today’s quest, at all costs, for European integration. Some vacillate almost painfully, and others with numbing repetition, entire metropolises caught like children in the spiteful back and forth of a custody battle. Love Me, Love Me Not: Changed Names celebrates the multilingual, carnivalesque complexity readily eclipsed today by nationalist struggles for simplicity and permanence. If, from the foggy perch of the early 21st century, we tend to see cities like living organisms that are born, grow, and even die, why should their names be any different? All city names are listed alphabetically according to the name in current use. Non-latin versions of the names are included in parentheses, where appropriate, to denote the officially recognized language of the city (as is the case with the Cyrillic script in several former Soviet countries), or a language used by a significant segment of the city’s population (for instance, Farsi in Tadjikistan).
Founded in 2005, Slavs and Tatars is a faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. The collective’s work spans several media, disciplines, and a broad spectrum of cultural registers (high and low) focusing on an oft-forgotten sphere of influence between Slavs, Caucasians and Central Asians.