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Lecture, Lecture series

Internationalist Nation-Builders. Soviet Youth Activism under Brezhnev.

Lecture by Stefan B. Kirmse (ZMO)

This talk discusses the interplay of nationalism and internationalism in the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin. While these two political agendas were opposites insofar as one would later play no small role in tearing the union apart whereas the other was supposed to hold it together, there was much that united their language, strategies, underlying concepts, and problems. More than that: there were mutually constitutive. One was barely imaginable, or would have been much weaker, without the other. This talk illustrates this for the period from the early 1960s to the early 1980s, when nationalism and internationalism turned into mass phenomena across the USSR. It argues that, far from being an era of ‘stagnation’, these years were highly dynamic because the two political projects mobilised people, generating enthusiasm and anger, on a large scale. At the same time, the national and international questions became more republicanised in these years: they were experienced and tackled differently in different union republics. To show this, the talk discusses a range of archival materials and publications from Soviet Armenia, Central Asia, and Ukraine.

Stefan Kirmse is a Senior Research Fellow and research coordinator at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin and a senior lecturer in modern history at Humboldt University Berlin. He gained his PhD in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London in 2009. He is the author of ‘Youth and Globalization in Central Asia’ (2013) and ‘The Lawful Empire. Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Imperial Russia’ (2019).

The event will be held via Zoom. Please register at registration@zmo.de

This event is part of the lecture series:
Lecture Series in the academic year 2019/20
Central Eurasian Studies and Translocality. A Debate Unfolding