okabe, takehiro

Competing with another Kalevala: O.W. Kuusinen, Soviet Intellectuals and the Making of the Soviet Kalevala in 1949

This paper tries to explain how the competition with Finland for the “true” centenary festival of the new Kalevala in 1949 articulated the Soviet notion of the Kalevala in the Karelian-Finnish Union Republic.

The previous studies have well researched the plans, ideas and organizations of the festivals in Finland from the context of the Finnish history and culture. For example, Kalevalan Kulttuurihistoria (2008) and the latest work on Kalevalaseura by Kristiina Kalleinen (2011) offer the short- and long-term meanings of the festival for the Kalevala study and the Finnish history. What these previous studies lack is the view from Soviet side. This is because they equated the Soviet interpretation of the Kalevala with O. W. Kuusinen’s famous one and failed to pay attention to other Soviet researchers who were mobilized to make the Soviet Kalevala at the jubilee conference in Petrozavodsk. Several works by Russian researchers (Natalia Prushinskaia in 1996, Eino Kiuru in 1996) have already explained the significance of Kuusinen’s commitment to the jubilee, but failed to answer how the situation in Finland affected the concept of the Soviet Kalevala.

My presentation will shed a new light to this theme by investigating how Kuusinen saw the political, ideological and cultural situation in both Finland and the Soviet Union, and advised the intellectuals to make the Soviet Kalevala by competing with the Finnish one. To achieve success, they had to avoid being accused of “bourgeois nationalism” and “cosmopolitanism” and, I argue, articulate a vision of “good Soviet society” in this jubilee.

Thursday 25 October 10:15-12:15 Panels IV, Panel 9 Cold War Competition in the Sphere of Culture (Hall 14)