The State of Human Rights in Russia

The 2014 World Report: Russia from the Human Rights Watch organization highlights the various threats to human rights in Russia by category. Among those addressed are rights of the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression, the treatment of government critics and human rights defenders, the religious extremists of the North Caucasus, and migrant’s rights. However, included among the list of transgressions the Russian government and, at times, its people conducted against Russian and non-Russian citizens in the country are a few positive outcomes.… Read the rest here

Peace, Love, and Rock and Roll in the USSR

In the discussion of Raleigh’s chapters exploring the Sputnik Generation in the USSR, the notion that during the 1950s and 1960s Soviet society shared many similarities to that of the United States in their gender relations and in their restrictive childhoods. William Risch’s article, “Soviet ‘Flower Children.’ Hippies and the Youth Counter-culture in 1970s L’viv,” continues to examine the cultural similarities between the two warring nations. More particularly, Risch seeks to address how the hippies in the Soviet Union affected the counter-culture that emerged among the generation born after the end of World War II (page 565).… Read the rest here

A New Cold War Narrative: The Superpower Quest for Empire

Spies. The Space Race. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Iron Curtain. These are all aspects that the general public closely associate with the era of the Cold War. Save for the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, people do not immediately associate the conflict between capitalist United States and communist Soviet Union with hostilities in the Middle East, Latin America, or South Asia. However, in his article, “The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation,’” Roger Kanet focuses strictly on the affect the Cold War had on the developing countries in these regions.… Read the rest here

Religious Symbolism as Rebellion in Akhmatova’s ‘Requiem’

In the Catholic Church, a requiem is a mass dedicated to the souls of the departed. Therefore, it serves as a fitting title for Anna Akhmatova’s poem written for those who suffered in the prisons and were executed under Stalin’s regime. Akhmatova wrote ‘Requiem’ in stages between 1935 and 1940, a time of unrest in the Soviet Union. After the prelude and dedication, the poem details the pain and anguish the people of the Soviet Union experienced during this time through the viewpoint of a widow who lost her husband to injustice and whose son is imprisoned.… Read the rest here

The Soviet Union and Failed Modernization

In its efforts to achieve modernization, the Soviet Union again faced the problem of failed execution. What Stalin and Lenin imagined for their new nation did not occur in reality. In his chapter, “Modernization or Neo-traditionalism? Ascribed Nationality and Soviet Primordialism,” Terry Martin discusses the Soviet government’s methods for creating nationalism within the Soviet Union among the various nationalities included in the newly formed Soviet Union. Using quotations from Stalin’s 1913 pamphlet and a 1938 article from the Bolshevik journal, Martin argues that the Party’s shift in its understanding of nationalism as a by-production of modernization to its emphasis on nationalism’s connection with primordial roots.… Read the rest here

The Realities of Collectivization

In 1928, Joseph Stalin addressed the need for collectivization of grain farms and the procurement of grain from villages throughout the Soviet countryside. His speech, “Grain Procurements and Prospects for Development of Agriculture,” attacks villages throughout Siberia who refused to relinquish their surplus grain to the State. He cites the grain shortage occurring throughout the country, and states, “The effect will be that our towns and industrial centres, as well as our Red Army, will be in grave difficulties; they will be poorly supplied and will be threatened with hunger.… Read the rest here

Quest for Civilization and the Question of Colonialism or Modern Mobilization

In his article “Backwardness and the Quest for Civilization: Early Soviet Central Asia in Comparative Perspective,” Adeeb Khalid addresses the problematic use of colonialism when discussing the government of the Soviet Union. Khalid argues that the Soviet Union’s control over its territories in Central Asia should not and cannot be discussed in terms of colonialism. Using the Turkish Republic as a comparison, Khalid demonstrates that in both cases the state wielded its power to create a universal standard within the nation’s culture that forced all citizens into a new, modern era.… Read the rest here

The Avant-Garde: Revolutionary Art

“Pictures of Pagan Russia in Two acts”-A fitting tagline for Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky’s ballet, Rite of Spring. Written and produced in 1913 during an artistic revolution in Russia, as well as Europe, Rite of Spring epitomizes the shift in artistic and political thought in Russia. The staccato rhythm of the music combined with the ritualistic, abrupt, and unstructured movements deviate from the traditional ballet performance centered around fluid scores and the graceful motions of the dancers.… Read the rest here