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Aleksanteri Conference







Babiracki, Patryk:

Soviet-East European Interactions during the Cold War: In Search for an Analytic Paradigm.

In the proposed paper (currently in progress) I will take a step back from my ongoing project on Soviet-Polish cultural links b. 1943 and 1953, and to place it in a broader historiographic context.  The substance of the essay will be an overview of the existing literature on the USSR’s relationship with its East European satellites b. WW II and the collapse of communism.  The essay will cover mostly (but not exclusively) works of Western, Russian/Soviet and Polish authors.  I will pay particular attention to the analytic frameworks that scholars have used during the last sixty years (e.g.: “revolution,” “occupation,” “Sovietization,” “totalitarianism,” “colonialism,” “empire,” “civilization”), and will examine the advantages and limitations of such approaches.  I will also reflect on the recent trends in the field: the shift in interest from top policymaking to the social and cultural dimensions of the transnational experiences in the Eastern Bloc, both during times of stability and periods of crisis.  Such interactions included Soviet military interventions in the region, scientific and cultural exchanges, international tourism, semi-official contacts between writers and artists, and several of other channels.  I will suggest that “empire” can be a useful concept for capturing these various aspects of the Cold War, despite the term’s notorious history as a politically-charged term of moral condemnation.

Saturday 31 Oct 9.30 -11.30 SESSION 7
Panel: The Old World Order: Reassessments and Re-conceptualisations