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Gendered Images and Soviet Subjects

How the Komsomol Archive Enriched My Understanding of Gender in Soviet War Culture

Adrienne M. Harris

Keywords: archives; gender; Zoia Kosmodemianskaia; RGASPI; war heroes; World War II

In this article, I detail how archival finds helped me develop questions on World War II martyr heroes and their role in Soviet culture and Russian collective memory. I consider how one might approach silences, read discrepancies in archival holdings, and extrapolate meaning from various kinds of documents. Considering that the Russian State Archive of Sociopolitical History Komsomol archive allows one to study the evolution of gender via the continuous reshaping of feminine and masculine ideals for Soviet youth, I discuss how the archive might open up new research areas and prompt additional questions for gender historians, and lead one to reconsider power and authority in the Soviet past.

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