Di 16 Jan 2018
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin
By Dmitry G via Wikimedia Commons
Prisma Ukraïna Workshop

Soviet Student Dormitories: Structures and Legacies

convened by Margaret Litvin (Boston University/EUME Fellow 2017-18/ Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Slawistik) and Susanne Frank (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin / Prisma Ukraïna Reasearch Network)

Speakers include: Susanne Frank (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin / Prisma Ukraïina Research Network), Gesine Drews-Sylla (Universität Tübingen), Schamma Schahadat (Universität Tübingen), Margaret Litvin (Boston University /EUME Fellow 2017-18), Elizabeth Bishop (Texas State University), Masha Kirasirova (NYU Abu Dhabi), Thomas Lahusen (University of Toronto), Svetlana Boltovskaja (Herder Institut Marburg), Tsypylma Darieva (Zentrum für Osteuropa und internationale Studien Berlin)

The influx of international students into the USSR was one of the most domestically visible features of Cold War Soviet foreign policy. The “friendship of nations” ideology brought students from various Soviet republics, Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America to study in Russia. These men and women lived in dormitories, attended classes and took part in official meetings, extracurricular activities, friendships, feuds, and love affairs. Obschiaga life put them in intimate contact with Russian students and with each other. Although these encounters often failed to inculcate a faith in “the friendship of nations” or cement an image of Soviet superiority, they did succeed in fostering international solidarities and individual friendships, including some unexpected ones.

This one-day exploratory workshop brings together literary scholars, historians, and anthropologists working on Soviet and post-Soviet spaces and cultural formations. We ask whether the Soviet student dormitory can fruitfully be considered as a microcosm for the USSR’s tiered cultural policy toward its various “Easts”: the “domestic abroad,” Eastern Europe, and the Afro-Asian world. Each participant will offer a mini-presentation (10 to 15 minutes) on a single literary or archival example. Novels by Ismail Kadare, Juri Andruchowytsch, and Sonallah Ibrahim and theoretical works by Svetlana Boym and Yuri Slezkine will guide our conversation: if the Soviet Union can be metaphorized as “a communal apartment” (Slezkine 1994), could it be productive to imagine Soviet inter/national policy as a student dormitory? How detailed could this model get? Would it be useful to think metaphorically about different floors, communal areas, the dezhurnaya, etc.?

Background readings will be circulated in advance. You can find information on the speakers here.


9:30-10 Welcome Coffee

10-10:15 Welcome
Georges Khalil, Forum Transregionale Studien
Andrii Portnov, Prisma Ukraina

10:15-12h Session 1: Spatial and emotional structures of the obschezhitie
Each workshop session will comprise three mini-presentations of 10-15 min and 1 hour of discussion
Margaret Litvin – Ismail Kadare at Gorky Institute and Sonallah Ibrahim at VGIK
Tsypylma Darieva – the spatial order of Soviet dormitories
Svetlana Boltovskaja – St. Petersburg African students on dormitory life

12h-13h Lunch

13h-14:45 Session 2: The Communist University of Toilers of the East
Masha Kirasirova – concentric circles of “East” at KUTV
Elizabeth Bishop – the Arab Section at KUTV
Thomas Lahusen – on Elizabeth McGuire on Chinese students at KUTV

Coffee Break

15:15-17:00 Session 3: Dormitories in Late Soviet Literature and Film
Schamma Schahadat – Dorms in Moscow Doesn’t Believe in Tears
Gesine Drews-Sylla – Dorms in Little Vera and Abderrahmane Sissako
Susanne Frank – on Juri Andrukhovich’s Moskoviada (2000) and Kadare’s Twilight of the Eastern Gods (1978)

Please contact prisma(at)trafo-berlin.de if you would like to attend.