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Soviet Cultural Diplomacy in Eastern Europe during the Post-War Period

Overview of the Most Recent Publications Sowjetische Kulturdiplomatie in Osteuropa in der Nachkriegszeit

Ein Überblick über die neuesten Veröffentlichungen

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This article attempts to analyze and evaluate the achievements of research on cultural diplomacy in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the last years. The present review does not claim to a complete coverage of recent literature but concentrates on characterizing the basic tendencies and conceptual innovations in the chosen field of study.

Our analysis allows to identify several current tendencies. Thus, historians are expanding their understanding of cultural diplomacy and integrating new objects of research. One of the most important trends is the study of agency within cultural diplomacy, e.g.of private-state networks or individual and collective actors of cultural diplomacy with their dynamically changing motivations and complicated interdependence with party-state structures and their own cultural practices. These were communicated by the transnational networks and at the same time kept very stable. The analysis of the phenomenon of cultural diplomacy was extended to intercultural communication in the realm of consumer and mass culture and the media landscape. This landscape was transforming in the post-war period and offered new possibilities to communicate cultural messages and to create new channels for cultural transfer. One of the achievements of recent scholarly research on the subject can certainly be seen in the acknowledgment of the paradigm of plural modernity which expands the conventional frames of the "bipolar system" allegedly shaped by the insurmountable discrepancies between capitalism and socialism and allows to approach the world order of the Cold War in a more balanced and diverse way emphasizing not only antagonisms but also similarities. Socialist cultures in a national 'cover' contradicting ideology and speaking the language of Enlightenment find a place in this paradigm, as do fragmented identities. Therefore the study of Soviet cultural diplomacy in Eastern Europe contributes to the recent interdisciplinary discussion on pluralistic modernity, to the cultural diversity of the Cold War, to the dynamics of global trends within consumer culture, and to media and transnational communication in general.

In the future, it would be desirable to see more studies that define the criteria of the efficiency of cultural diplomacy more precisely and formulate descriptive models and scenarios of cultural diplomacy for individual regions and countries. New topics will complement this so far only fragmentarily analyzed research landscape.
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Keywords: 1950S; 1960S; 1970S; COLD WAR; CULTURAL DIPLOMACY; EASTERN EUROPE; RESEARCH REPORT

Language: German

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • The Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas ("East European History") present the discipline in its entire breadth; for thematically focused articles the emphasis lies on the territory of the former Russian Empire and the former Soviet Union. A double-blind review process with international experts ensures adherence to the annals' recognized high quality standards. An extensive section devoted to reviews informs the reader about current trends in German and international research. In addition, the editorial board publishes an electronic review supplement under the title jgo.e-reviews at recensio.net.
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