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Patriotism and the Soviet Empire: Ukraine views the socialist states of Eastern Europe, 1956-1985

Wojnowski, Z.; (2011) Patriotism and the Soviet Empire: Ukraine views the socialist states of Eastern Europe, 1956-1985. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the repercussions of the establishment of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe in the USSR itself, especially Ukraine. In order to trace the changing character and claims of national and supra-national identities in the different regions of Ukraine, I identify various 'official' contexts in which Soviet citizens discussed and observed developments in the satellite states. I argue that Soviet portrayals of Eastern Europe were inconsistent and even contradictory, shaped as they were by complex interactions between party officials in Moscow, Kyiv, and the provinces. From the Hungarian uprising in 1956 to the Solidarity crisis in the early 1980s, CPSU leaders perceived ethnic diversity as a threat to Soviet stability. They sponsored various images of the people's democracies to promote Soviet patriotism, which they mobilised to bridge or even obliterate ethnic divisions in the USSR. Yet they never agreed upon a common definition of the Soviet 'patriot', outlining various roles which workers, non-Russian intellectuals, and west Ukrainians would play in the unified 'Soviet' community. Influenced by events in the people's democracies, they variously framed 'Soviet' identity in ethnically exclusive East Slavic terms or in the rhetoric of 'working class solidarity'. My thesis demonstrates that the 'diffusion' of ideas across borders, alongside modernisation and social mobilisation, was a crucial factor which contributed towards the rise of Soviet patriotism in Ukraine. Through contrasting a homogeneous 'Soviet nation' to other peoples of Eastern Europe, party leaders inadvertently encouraged Soviet Jews, Poles, Hungarians, and Ukrainians to protect their linguistic and cultural interests more vigorously. However, with 'official Ukrainianness' increasingly confined to the sphere of low-culture, most residents of the republic downplayed their ethnic identities and identified themselves as 'Soviet'. Thus, they sought to ease access to information and obtain material benefits from the state.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Patriotism and the Soviet Empire: Ukraine views the socialist states of Eastern Europe, 1956-1985
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > SSEES

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