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Soviet Student Dormitories: Structures and Legacies

Prisma Ukraïna Workshop | 16.01.2018 | 09:30 – 17:00 | Forum Transregionale Studien

© Forum Transregionale Studien

© Forum Transregionale Studien

convened by Margaret Litvin (Boston University/EUME Fellow 2017-18/ Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Slawistik) and Susanne Frank (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin / Prisma Ukraïna Reasearch Network)

Speakers include: Susanne Frank (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin / Prisma Ukraïina Research Network), Gesine Drews-Sylla (Universität Tübingen), Schamma Schahadat (Universität Tübingen), Margaret Litvin (Boston University /EUME Fellow 2017-18), Elizabeth Bishop (Texas State University), Masha Kirasirova (NYU Abu Dhabi), Thomas Lahusen (University of Toronto), Svetlana Boltovskaja (Herder Institut Marburg), Tsypylma Darieva (Zentrum für Osteuropa und internationale Studien Berlin)

The influx of international students into the USSR was one of the most domestically visible features of Cold War Soviet foreign policy. The “friendship of nations” ideology brought students from various Soviet republics, Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America to study in Russia. These men and women lived in dormitories, attended classes and took part in official meetings, extracurricular activities, friendships, feuds, and love affairs. Obschiaga life put them in intimate contact with Russian students and with each other. Although these encounters often failed to inculcate a faith in “the friendship of nations” or cement an image of Soviet superiority, they did succeed in fostering international solidarities and individual friendships, including some unexpected ones. 

This one-day exploratory workshop brings together literary scholars, historians, and anthropologists working on Soviet and post-Soviet spaces and cultural formations. We ask whether the Soviet student dormitory can fruitfully be considered as a microcosm for the USSR’s tiered cultural policy toward its various “Easts”: the “domestic abroad,” Eastern Europe, and the Afro-Asian world. Each participant will offer a mini-presentation (10 to 15 minutes) on a single literary or archival example. Novels by Ismail Kadare, Juri Andruchowytsch, and Sonallah Ibrahim and theoretical works by Svetlana Boym and Yuri Slezkine will guide our conversation: if the Soviet Union can be metaphorized as “a communal apartment” (Slezkine 1994), could it be productive to imagine Soviet inter/national policy as a student dormitory? How detailed could this model get? Would it be useful to think metaphorically about different floors, communal areas, the dezhurnaya, etc.?

Background readings will be circulated in advance. You can find information on the speakers here.

Please contact prisma(at)trafo-berlin.de if you would like to attend.

Zeit & Ort

16.01.2018  |  09:30 - 17:00

Forum Transregionale Studien
Wallotstr. 14
14193 Berlin

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