Fall 2008

“Affirmative Action Empire”: Soviet Experiences of Managing Diversity

Listed in: History, as HIST-80


Sergey Glebov (Section 01)


(EU) This course introduces students to the history of the Soviet state and society through a variety of topics, all of which touch on the problem of dealing with diversity under a Communist regime. We will begin with a discussion of recent theories of nationalism and empire, and read Joseph Stalin's and Vladimir Lenin's texts on revolution and nationalism. Later, we shall discuss how the Communist regime envisioned socialist transformations in various parts of the Soviet Union, focusing in particular on the Soviet campaign for the modernization of Islamic Central Asia and the unveiling of Central Asian women. We will also explore the meaning of the Great Terror that swept the country as Stalin's grip on power hardened, and look at World War II and its legacies. Using a range of historical sources, from animated films to novels and rock songs, we shall explore the culture of the late Soviet Union and discuss social forces that predetermined its demise as the only grand alternative to Western-style liberal democracy. It is expected that by the end of the class students will be familiar with the assumptions and the language of Soviet-style Marxism, and understand the evolution of the economic, cultural and social policies of the Soviet regime. Assignments include three response papers, and a final 20-page research paper. Two class meetings per week. Fall semester. Five College Professor Gelbov.