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Becoming Soviet: The Transformation of Everyday Life in Stalin's Times

Columbia University Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, Room 1219


September 03, 2014
12:00pm to 2:00pm
Mass festivals were a trademark of twentieth-century authoritarianism, as seen in fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and elsewhere. But nowhere was this phenomenon more prevalent than in the Soviet Union. Despite being a dominant feature of Soviet culture, these public spectacles have been largely overlooked as objects of study by historians. Originally published in German, Malte Rolf’s highly acclaimed work examines the creation and perpetuation of large-scale celebrations such as May Day, the anniversary of the October Revolution, Harvest Day, and others throughout the Soviet era. He chronicles the overt political agendas, public displays of power, forced participation, and widespread use of these events in the Soviet drive to eradicate existing cultural norms and replace them with new icons of Soviet ideology. Rolf shows how the new Red Calendar became an essential tool in redefining celebrations in the Soviet Union. Malte Rolf is professor of history at the University of Bamberg, Germany. His book, Soviet Mass Festivals, 1917-1991 (University of Pittsburgh Press 2014), has received the Klaus Mehnert Award by the German Society for East European Studies and the Doctorate Award of University of Tübingen.

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Rebecca Dalton