Imagining the West in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
- University of Pittsburgh Press
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.
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