The Jordan Center Blog

A space for news and opinion, sponsored by The Jordan Center

The Politburo Goes Hunting: Masculinity, Nature, and Power in the Soviet Union

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Characterized by informality, a tendency to personalize official relationships, and, perhaps above all, by a desire to assert strength and power through a display of manliness, Soviet diplomacy often required a ritual demonstration of marksmanship skills and physical agility in order to challenge and rewrite the image of Soviet leaders as aging and inept apparatchiks.

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Socrates in Russia, Part II

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In May 2022, while wrapping up edits on my contribution to Socrates in Russia amidst a stream of dreadful news from the Ukrainian front, I learned that the eighteenth-century estate where Skovoroda spent his final years, and nearby which he was laid to rest, was destroyed by Russian air strikes. Hryhoriy Skovoroda is still here, invisibly, in our cultural memory. Our world has once again become the one that Skovoroda despised, described as “flesh and whips and tears.” No to war.

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Socrates in Russia, Part I

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The story of Socrates has long been a vessel for interpretation. Philosophers, writers, and artists in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Soviet and post-Soviet space have actively participated in this process, creating their own Socrateses for their respective eras and environments.

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Grappling with German Tropes of WWII Captivity in Siberia

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My mapping research showed that only 13 percent of all POW camps in the USSR were located in Siberia. Based on very rough figures for camp populations, it seems that the few Siberian camps also did not house the majority of the POW population. In theory, then, Siberian camps in particular should not define the majority POW experience. Why, then, did so many Germans tell me that their relatives had been in Siberia, specifically? Why was Siberian captivity the dominant trope among my respondents?

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