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University of Pittsburgh Press
Imagining the West in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union

Imagining the West in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union

by Gyorgy Peteri


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In this volume, international writers explore conceptualizations of what defined "East" and "West" in Eastern Europe, imperial Russia, and the Soviet Union in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors analyze the effects of transnational interactions on ideology, politics, and cultural production, and reveal that the roots of an East-West cultural divide existed long before socialism and the Cold War.

The chapters explore the complex stages of adoption and rejection of Western ideals in Eastern Europe in areas such as architecture, travel writing, film, music, health care, consumer products, political propaganda, and human rights. They describe a process of mental mapping whereby individuals "captured and possessed" Western identity through cultural encounters and developed their own interpretations. In response, political and intellectual elites devised strategies of resistance to defy these Western impositions.

Socialists believed that their cultural forms offered morally and materially better lives for the masses, yet their attitude toward the West fluctuated between a sense of superiority and inferiority. But, in material terms, Western industry and technology were the ever-present yardstick by which progress was measured. The contributors conclude that the necessities of modern life and the rise of consumerism made it impossible for communist states to meet the demands of their citizens. The West eventually won the battle of supply and demand, and thus the battle for cultural influence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822961253
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 11/28/2010
Series: Pitt Russian East European Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Gyorgy Peteri is professor of contemporary European history at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. He is the author of four books on Eastern European history, most recently Global Monetary Regime and National Central Banking: The Case of Hungary, 1921-29.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: The Oblique Coordinate Systems of Modern Identity György Péteri 1

Chapter 2 Were the Czechs More Western Than Slavic? Nineteenth-Century Travel Literature from Russia by Disillusioned Czechs Karen Gammelgaard 13

Chapter 3 Privileged Origins: "National Models" and Reforms of Public Health in Interwar Hungary Erik Ingebrigtsen 36

Chapter 4 Defending Children's Rights, "In Defense of Peace": Children and Soviet Cultural Diplomacy Catriona Kelly 59

Chapter 5 East as True West: Redeeming Bourgeois Culture, from Socialist Realism to Ostalgie Greg Castillo 87

Chapter 6 Paris or Moscow? Warsaw Architects and the Image of the Modern City in the 1950s David Crowley 105

Chapter 7 Imagining Richard Wagner: The Janus Head of a Divided Nation Elaine Kelly 131

Chapter 8 From Iron Curtain to Silver Screen: Imagining the West in the Khrushchev Era Anne E. Gorsuch 153

Chapter 9 Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall?Is the West the Fairest of Them All? Czechoslovak Normalization and Its (Dis)contents Paulina Bren 172

Chapter 10 Who Will Beat Whom? Soviet Popular Reception of the American National Exhibition in Moscow, 1959 Susan E. Reid 194

Chapter 11 Moscow Human Rights Defenders Look West: Attitudes toward U.S. Journalists in the 1960s and 1970s Barbara Walker 237

Chapter 12 Conclusion: Transnational History and the East-West Divide Michael David-Fox 258

Notes 269

Contributors 329

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