Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Meri Herrala (University of Helsinki, Finland)

From Systemic, Ideological and Cultural Antagonism to the Cultural Interchange of the Superpowers from Stalin to Khrushchev and Beyond

Systemic, ideological and cultural antagonism is a central theme behind the relationship between Russia and the West. I will present the ideological and cultural background for the development of Soviet nationalism and patriotism in Soviet culture from Stalin to Khrushchev. My paper will discuss the transformation from this antagonism between the Soviet Union and the West into transnational encounters and the usage of "soft power" diplomacy between the superpowers. During the anti-formalist campaigns of the 1930s and 1940s, the two tendencies in Soviet arts, Western modernism and Soviet Socialist Realism, and the struggle between the "degenerate bourgeois Western culture," and "progressive proletarian influences" were politicized. The further message was that the world had been divided into two camps. International tensions led to the isolation of the Soviet Union from the West. The uniting power of the Soviet ideology and culture was effectively used in the socialist nation-building project. In the atmosphere of peaceful coexistence, the usage of the cultural intelligentsia as agents of "soft power" superseded the East-West antagonism. Officials in both camps recognized the need for alternative cooperation instead of military escalation. Russian policies today can be understood using this same historical perspective of nationalistic antagonism. Russia is continuously boosting its patriotism and showing its strength. Instead of using economic sanctions as a penalty for the annexation of the Crimea by Russia, "soft power" should be increasingly used as a means for enhancing understanding between Russia and the West. What are the chances for cultural cooperation between the East and the West today, when the most educated people and Russian intelligentsia are increasingly moving to the West? What will be the impact of the economic downfall facing both Russia and Europe, and the diminishing funding allocated for culture, on East-West relations?