The ‘Garrotted Renaissance’: language and nationalism in the 1930s

Almost exactly 80 years ago, on 3 November 1937, the NKVD executed the renowned Ukrainian theatre director Les Kurbas. Kurbas was not alone that day – a large group of Ukrainian writers and intellectuals were executed alongside him. The loss of so many of Ukraine’s cultural community resonated deeply with their compatriots, and those who … More The ‘Garrotted Renaissance’: language and nationalism in the 1930s

The Paris Commune and the Consolidation of the Leninist state

by Danny Bird One morning in July 1920, representatives of the world’s Communist and revolutionary socialist parties gathered alongside an audience of 45,000 outside Petrograd’s Stock Exchange building. For three hours, an epic historical production titled ‘Toward the Worldwide Commune’ gripped their imagination. In one memorable scene, the red flag of the Paris Commune of … More The Paris Commune and the Consolidation of the Leninist state

Doctor Zhivago as a Response to the Weaponization of Soviet Literature and Mass Culture

By Lonny Harrison Almost from the moment they seized control in November 1917, the Bolsheviks nationalized the publishing industry and tightly controlled the press. Soviet authorities were never ashamed of their monopoly on media and culture, viewing them as weapons of class struggle. After all, media had been used by the bourgeoisie for their own … More Doctor Zhivago as a Response to the Weaponization of Soviet Literature and Mass Culture

The Soviet Court as a Propaganda Instrument

By Anna Lukina “The Soviet court should, above all, persuade, prove and subordinate the public attention to its moral influence and authority.” Andrei Vyshinskii, “Theory of Evidence in the Soviet Law” (1946) It is well-known that the Soviet court procedure, especially in the 1930s, can be characterized by its lack of due process, judicial independence, … More The Soviet Court as a Propaganda Instrument

Teaching Soviet Children the Language of Science and Technology

By Laura Todd At the beginning of the First Five-Year plan in 1928, the aims of children’s literature neatly intersected with those of the Soviet government’s plans to create a viable and powerful state, built on the promotion of knowledge, science, and technology. Soviet children, as the generation who would oversee and complete the transition … More Teaching Soviet Children the Language of Science and Technology

Refugees, Exiles and Émigrés: Russia Abroad and the Semantics of Displacement

By Eilish Hart Following the 1917 Revolution over a million Russians fled to Europe to escape the turmoil of the ensuing Red Terror and Civil War. Although often referred to as Russian émigrés, these people were actually the first wave of European migrants to be legally classified as refugees. The reason they are now referred … More Refugees, Exiles and Émigrés: Russia Abroad and the Semantics of Displacement

Zealots, bureaucrats or ordinary people? Looking for the Soviet censor.

By Samantha Sherry More often than not, the language of censorship employs tropes of conflict and struggle. One wages a battle with censorship, or struggles against it. Writers are ‘victims’ of an absolute evil. What emerges time and time again is the idea of censorship as an almost abstract force. In my work on the … More Zealots, bureaucrats or ordinary people? Looking for the Soviet censor.

‘Enemies of the people’: Fake news and Bolshevik manipulation of the press in early Soviet Sormovo

By Laura Sumner   ‘The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!’- Donald Trump (17th February 2017) ‘This strike is subordination… In short, they [Mensheviks and Right SRs] acted as enemies of the proletariat, the enemies of the people, like true … More ‘Enemies of the people’: Fake news and Bolshevik manipulation of the press in early Soviet Sormovo

Speaking Soviet – The Marriage of Soviet Linguistics and Literacy in the Early Soviet Period

By Kate Martin With the advent of the early Soviet period, the idea of literacy and language was one which was at the forefront of the minds of the Bolshevik leadership. Although work had begun in the late 19th and early 20th century by the previous regime to make education and literacy more available to … More Speaking Soviet – The Marriage of Soviet Linguistics and Literacy in the Early Soviet Period

Suicide really isn’t war: megalomania, counterculture and the joy of metal music in the Soviet Union

By Dawn Hazle Popular music presents a problem to authoritarian regimes: by its nature it either has to be controlled, or banned. Yet, control requires a lot of resources, and simply just pushes the problem underground.  In the Soviet Union, both approaches were undertaken: popular music was controlled through state-sponsored Vokal’no-Instrumental’nyi Ansambl’ (VIA) groups and … More Suicide really isn’t war: megalomania, counterculture and the joy of metal music in the Soviet Union