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Soviet Internationalism after Stalin: The USSR and Latin America in the Cultural Cold War

Dates:
  • Thu 26 Apr 2012 15.00 - 17.00
  Add to Calendar 2012-04-26 15:00 2012-04-26 17:00 Europe/Paris Soviet Internationalism after Stalin: The USSR and Latin America in the Cultural Cold War

This thesis, an entangled history of the Soviet Union and Latin America from the 1950s through the 1970s, explores Soviet internationalism as it re-emerged after the self-inflicted isolation of the USSR during late Stalinism. Referring to an idealised notion of pre-Stalin socialism, Soviet politicians and intellectuals, after 1953, revived internationalism as a guiding principle in relation to internal as well as external audiences. De-Stalinization at home happened against the backdrop of the Cold War, which had shifted its focus from Europe to the emerging Third World. Latin America, unlike South-East Asia or Africa with a distinct history of relations with the Soviets from early on, became again a target of Soviet advances. No longer, however, did the Soviets propagate the violent overthrow of governments; they now sought to win over anti-imperialist politicians in office, intellectuals of different political leanings and future elites as friends of the Soviet state. The first chapter analyses a range of activities that were meant to present the Soviet Union to Latin Americans as a technologically and culturally advanced modern state. The chapters three and four examine the surprising successes and some shortcomings of these endeavours with Latin American intellectuals and students respectively. Before that, however, the second chapter looks at the impact that the new internationalist activities had on the Soviet Union itself. It will be argued that the cautious re-opening of the country to the world did not, as is sometimes suggested, immediately undermine Soviet values and spread Western ideas of liberalism and consumerism instead. Contacts with countries of the Global South, which were often less developed than the Soviet Union, and that were in many cases victims of imperialist policies, initially proved to many Soviet politicians and intellectuals the ostensible superiority of their own system, while the majority of the Soviet population enjoyed internationalism through the consumption of a politicised exoticist popular culture. Stalin’s successors announced a return to socialist internationalism, and a number of its most active promoters are presented in the last chapter. But at the same time, the end of isolation also meant a re-integration of the Soviet Union, at political, scientific, intellectual and cultural levels, into a global community under the conditions of the Cold War. I refer to this specific conglomeration of revolutionary and integrative ideals as ‘Soviet internationalism after Stalin’.

Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA

This thesis, an entangled history of the Soviet Union and Latin America from the 1950s through the 1970s, explores Soviet internationalism as it re-emerged after the self-inflicted isolation of the USSR during late Stalinism. Referring to an idealised notion of pre-Stalin socialism, Soviet politicians and intellectuals, after 1953, revived internationalism as a guiding principle in relation to internal as well as external audiences. De-Stalinization at home happened against the backdrop of the Cold War, which had shifted its focus from Europe to the emerging Third World. Latin America, unlike South-East Asia or Africa with a distinct history of relations with the Soviets from early on, became again a target of Soviet advances. No longer, however, did the Soviets propagate the violent overthrow of governments; they now sought to win over anti-imperialist politicians in office, intellectuals of different political leanings and future elites as friends of the Soviet state. The first chapter analyses a range of activities that were meant to present the Soviet Union to Latin Americans as a technologically and culturally advanced modern state. The chapters three and four examine the surprising successes and some shortcomings of these endeavours with Latin American intellectuals and students respectively. Before that, however, the second chapter looks at the impact that the new internationalist activities had on the Soviet Union itself. It will be argued that the cautious re-opening of the country to the world did not, as is sometimes suggested, immediately undermine Soviet values and spread Western ideas of liberalism and consumerism instead. Contacts with countries of the Global South, which were often less developed than the Soviet Union, and that were in many cases victims of imperialist policies, initially proved to many Soviet politicians and intellectuals the ostensible superiority of their own system, while the majority of the Soviet population enjoyed internationalism through the consumption of a politicised exoticist popular culture. Stalin’s successors announced a return to socialist internationalism, and a number of its most active promoters are presented in the last chapter. But at the same time, the end of isolation also meant a re-integration of the Soviet Union, at political, scientific, intellectual and cultural levels, into a global community under the conditions of the Cold War. I refer to this specific conglomeration of revolutionary and integrative ideals as ‘Soviet internationalism after Stalin’.


Location:
Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Examiner:
Prof. Federico Romero (EUI - HEC)
Professor Nicola Miller (University College, London)
Professor Klaus Gestwa (University of Tübingen)

Contact:
Kathy Wolf Fabiani - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Prof. Stephen Anthony Smith

Defendant:
Tobias Rupprecht (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
 

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