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Fighting Locusts Together: Pest Control and the Birth of Soviet Development Aid, 1920-1939

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During the interwar period, Soviet authorities put a particular emphasis on fighting agricultural pests. Locust invasions were a tremendous concern for Soviet borderlands in the Caucasus and Central Asian. Antiacridian campaigns thus became an important element of the social contract between local populations and the Bolsheviks, embodying the Communist modernising project. However, they were also a diplomatic issue, since scientific progress demonstrated ever more clearly the transnational dimension of the locust threat. Debates erupted among Soviet institutions as to the way this cross-border dimension should be managed. As the 1920s went on, forms of international cooperation were developed with Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia. These relations were an opportunity to showcase the Soviet model of development and to gain political influence. Interactions between the USSR and Iran were especially advanced and served as a model for other bilateral agreements. This paper argues that this relatively forgotten episode laid the basis for the ulterior Soviet development policy.
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Keywords: Development; Locusts; Middle East; Pest control; Soviet Union

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2014

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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