Sarotte on the Factors of the Soviet Union’s Collapse

In “1989”, Mary Elise Sarotte questions the factors at play in the fall of the Soviet Union. In her first chapter, she discusses the changes that occurred in 1989 and argues that the Soviet Union’s collapse was propelled as a result of changes within the Soviet Union’s internal status quo, unstable relations with between Americans and Soviet politicians, and changing international relations in Europe. She also points to the looming fear of nuclear warfare that characterized the Cold War and defined the era in general.… Read the rest here

Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

The CNN documentary on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan unflinchingly exposes both Soviet and Western influences in the destabilization of the region. What was supposed to be a quick occupation that would end in a few weeks, the Soviet invasion lasted for a decade. After Muslim extremists in the region rebelled against sweeping socialist policies in Afghanistan, a rebellion ensued. This rebellion was in part influenced by the fact that Soviet policies were ignorant to Afghanistanian culture and Muslim practices and by the fact that these policies were threatening the control of the Muslim religious leaders.… Read the rest here

The Sputnik Generation: Gender Roles as Defining Personality

In Ch. 3 of “Russia’s Sputnik Generation: Soviet Baby Boomers Talk about Their Lives”, editor and historian Donald J. Raleigh interviewed Natalia P. to discover what values, events and ideology shaped the formation of Soviet identity during 1960s and 1970s in the Soviet Union. Natalia P. is a language enthusiast, professor of foreign languages, mother and wife. Throughout this chapter, Natalia reminisced on her childhood during the Khrushchev era (1956-1964) and her adolescence and young adulthood during the Brezhnev era (1964-1982).… Read the rest here

Russian history over Soviet values? Creating a Sevastopol identity

In “Who Makes Local Memories?: The Case of Sevastopol after World War II”, Qualls argues that the historical city of Sevastopol has been defined and shaped by its identification with Russian culture and history. Sevastopol’s residents and outsiders consider it to be a Russian city, and this tradition was evident as far back as 1845 when Leo Tolstoy wrote that it was “impossible to shake the spirit of the Russian people” (Qualls 3) during their defense of the city during the Seize of Sevastopol.… Read the rest here

Circus as a metaphor for Soviet Collectiveness

The film “Circus” portrays a white American actress Marion Dixon attempting to integrate into Soviet culture while struggling to conceal the existence of her black child. After fleeing from the racial West (specifically America), Marion moves to Moscow to join the circus with her manager, who blackmails her and threatens to expose her secret. However, Marion’s career in the circus provides her with a sense of community and belonging. When her manager attempts to humiliate her, he exposes her baby to the entire audience and is shocked when the audience warmly embrace the baby and proclaim that they do not discriminate against children.… Read the rest here

Women as anti-Rationality in Zamyatin’s “We”

In Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We,” the protagonist D-503 introduces himself as a strong supporter of the State’s ideals of rationality and un-freedom. He proudly reiterates State mantras such as “nobody is ‘one’ but ‘one of'” (7) and believes wholeheartedly that the problem of happiness has been solved through absolute, precise reason. He willingly carries out predetermined practices such as filling out a pink slip for every time he wants to have sex with O-90 and “shares” her with his best friend, yet shows no signs of emotions such as jealousy or rage at this arrangement, mainly because he identifies with the norms of his community. … Read the rest here

Abdication of Nicholas II

A close analysis of primary texts is often helpful in understanding particular political and personal perspectives. Certain phrases and word choice in Czar Nicholas II’s official abdication highlight tensions present in 1917. Nicholas II chose phrases such as “sons of Russia” and “sons of our native land” to emphasize the folk and political ideology of the Czar as a fatherly figure to his citizens. This relationship, whether personal or political, requires a commitment of respect and obedience, since honoring one’s fathers and mothers was a significant and important cultural and religious value in Imperial Russia.… Read the rest here