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Soviet Russian Primers of the 1940s

The War after the Victory

Vitaly Bezrogov and Dorena Caroli

What changes did the content, structure, and production of Russian primers published in the Soviet Union undergo between 1941 and 1948—that is, during the Second World War and its aftermath? This article answers this question by analyzing language, content, iconography, and the printing process. The first section addresses key characteristics of primers printed between 1941 and 1944, while the second section focuses on the content of postwar primers printed between 1945 and 1948. The final section addresses challenges facing the textbook approval and circulation process experienced by the State Pedagogical Publishing House of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR) from 1945 to 1948.

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Antagonistic Insights

Evolving Soviet Atheist Critiques of Religion and Why They Matter for Anthropology

Sonja Luehrmann

This article offers a critique of the common notion in contemporary anthropology that a positive attitude toward the people under study is a necessary precondition for a sophisticated understanding of their social world. The empirical sociology of religion that evolved during the last decades of the Soviet Union's existence started from the premise that religion was a harmful phenomenon slated for disappearance. Nonetheless, atheist sociologists produced increasingly complex accounts of religious life in modern socialist societies. Their ideological framework simultaneously constrained Soviet scholars and forced them to pay closer attention to religious phenomena that contradicted political expectations. Drawing on this extreme example of militant atheist scholarship, I argue that studying 'repugnant cultural others' always requires some form of affective motivation. Antagonism can be as powerful, and as problematic, a motivating force as empathetic suspension of judgment.

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Caroline Humphrey

The article discusses Soviet sailors' experiences away from home and seaborne social relations—the particular sociality brought to the Black Sea region by ships and sailors. The officers and sailors employed by the Black Sea Fleet had much wider horizons than ordinary Soviet citizens—and the small temporary society of the ship interpenetrated with the varied Black Sea inhabitants in limited but significant ways. They contrasted “high seas” of the world's great oceans, the setting for dangerous, daring and profitable exploits, with the enclosed drudgery of the Black Sea routes. The article shows how the Cold War inflected the imaginaries and practices of seamen and others. It argues that an anthropology of the sea can develop an analysis that combines regional specificities with visions that extend beyond the local and national.

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Erica L. Fraser

With the onset of the Cold War and a new nuclear world order, Soviet physicists found themselves at the nexus of scientific research and weapons development. This article investigates the subjectivity of these physicists as an issue of masculinity. Influenced by Connell's models of subordinated, complicit, and hegemonic masculinity, the article finds that the stories nuclear physicists tell about their research in the 1950s are inconsistent and shifting, with the narrators simultaneously remembering unfreedom and privilege. They tell of being conscripted to military work against their will but then enjoying (and deserving) the resulting power, all while maintaining strong homosocial networks in the laboratory predicated on excluding women. Evidence from personal narratives provides unique insight into these multiple masculinities and the way the authors position themselves as (masculinized) Cold War subjects.

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Femininity (Con)scripted

Female Images in Soviet Wartime Poster Propaganda, 1941–1945

Susan Corbesero

During the Second World War, legions of Soviet women behind the lines participated in war-time production in both industry and agriculture. Soviet propaganda, despite the overwhelming numbers, contributions and sacrifices of women, graphically portrayed them in ways that both re-established the pre-war patriarchal gender relations of the Stalinist era and circumscribed women’s wartime experiences. This article examines how, during the initial and la er years of the conflict, and in the important and under- studied source of Soviet poster propaganda, the symbolic configuration and recon- figuration of femininity and the female image was transmitted through shifting official policies and attitudes on the role of women. While early posters portrayed women’s wartime participation as atypical, temporary and unwomanly, propaganda by the end of the war featured hyper-feminised representations of women while the Soviet state moved to reassert political controls and institutionalise conservative gender policies to serve the needs of war and reconstruction.

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The Return of Mother Russia

Representations of Women in Soviet Wartime Cinema

Elena Baraban

This article examines the process of symbolisation in the images of women in Soviet cinema. It argues that during the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945) many female characters served as symbolic representations of the country itself, of Mother Russia, determined to defeat the enemy and ready to endure hardships and to cope with deprivation and grief. The start of the resistance against Nazi Germany called for many more depictions of women than was typical in the thoroughly masculinised culture of the 1930s. At the same time, wartime images of women were quite abstract: they recalled posters and often relied on a symbolically charged mise-en-scène.

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Kathleen Osgood and Anna Bara

John McCannon, A History of the Arctic: Nature, Exploration and Exploitation Kathleen Osgood

Julian Agyeman and Yelena Ogneva-Himmerlberger, eds., Environmental Justice and Sustainability in the Former Soviet Union Anna Bara

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From Victims of Antisemitism to Post-modern Hybrids

Representations of (Post)Soviet Jews in Germany

Robin Ostow

Since April 1990, more than 100,000 Jews from the Soviet Union and its successor states have migrated to Germany, radically and permanently altering the size, shape and culture of Germany’s Jewish population. This migration was unexpected, unplanned and, in fact, unwanted by the German government, by the Israeli government, and by most members of Germany’s Jewish communities. It took place against the background of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, and, once it began, it became unstoppable. Through the decades of the Cold War, ‘Jews in Germany’ – as they were called – appeared in newspaper and magazine articles as an endangered species, if not an anomaly. Books about Jews in the postwar Germanies carried titles like The Survivors (Mühlen, 1962), and Post-Mortem (Katcher, 1968).

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Natsionalizm

Enemies and Scapegoats

Tatiana Argounova-Low

This article is about natsionalizm as an instrumental concept used manipulatively in the Soviet state by the ruling elite. It argues that accusations of natsionalizm in the Soviet Union served a particular purpose of manipulation and punishment. An instrumental character of accusations turned the victims into enemies and sacrificial scapegoats in order to prove the righteousness of the Soviet society. This article uses case studies from the recent history of one of the Russian republics, Republic of Sakha (Iakutiia).

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On the Rise of the House of Rothschild and the Death of Anne Frank

The Jewish Museum in Frankfurt/Main – Regional History with International Accents

Susanne Urban

Before 1933 Frankfurt was home to the second largest Jewish community in Germany after Berlin. After the Shoah, only a small Jewish remnant remained in Germany. Still, the city on the banks of the river Main remained the second largest Jewish community. This ‘tradition’ ended after 1991 with the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union and nowadays more Jews live in Munich than Frankfurt.