Peripheries at Awe: Moscow as Metropolis of Communist Culture (1940s-1960s)

by Viviana Iacob, at The Paradigmatic City: Origins, Avatars, Frontiers, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Centro de História d’Aquém e d’Além-Mar, 15-17 October, 2015.

Abstract

The presentation will focus on Romanian intellectuals who traveled to Moscow after the war to witness, internalize, and emulate the construction of a communist society and culture. I will focus mainly on the theatre community as I am going to examine those encounters that shaped the discourse of a superior socialist culture that was created at the Moscow center. These journeys were permeated by the imperative to replicate the Soviet exemplum at home in order to put Romanian culture on the right track to communism. After 1953, traveling patterns to Moscow diversify to include more and more sympathetic travelers from outside the Iron Curtain. The postwar wave of transnational encounters mimicked, to some extent, the cultural context of 1920s and 1930s, when Soviet Russia was a captivating destination for sympathetic Western intellectuals. These fellow-travelers marveled at the wonder of the new socialist world being created in the USSR and the theater model it produced. The presentation will underline how the peripatetic movement of European intelligentsia in the context of de-Stalinization brought about a significant evolution within the Soviet bloc. The travels of theatre practitioners fuelled a phase of cultural rejuvenation within the communist world, both at the center (Moscow) and in the periphery (Eastern Europe).

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