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Factory of Nations:  Films about the Past and the Collapse of the USSR

Factory of Nations: Films about the Past and the Collapse of the USSR

Bunche Hall Rm 10383

The Center for European and Russian Studies (CERS) invite you to a talk with Catriona Kelly, entitled "Factory of Nations:  Films about the Past and the Collapse of the USSR". This presentation, followed by Q&A, will take place at UCLA Bunche Hall, Room 10383 on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 at 4:00 PM. Register today!


Vladislav Zubok’s vast and impressive recent history of the Gorbachev years, Collapse: The Fall of the Soviet Union, largely blames the country’s final General Secretary for the USSR’s demise. Gorbachev’s fatal mistake was to attempt a “misguided centralization” that “exposed the Soviet Union to the demons of economic chaos, political populism, nationalism, and more”. Arguments that “nationalism” in the USSR was to a significant extent created by the center – whether through a myopic failure to recognize its dangers, or active encouragement of “titular nationalities” in developing their own identities – are widespread. Whether or not the Soviet Union actually was an empire, such arguments are themselves “imperial” in their condemnation of strivings for autonomy in, and denial of agency to, non-Russian territories, what Soviet usage termed “the periphery”. In this talk, I propose to examine what non-Russian historical films of the late Soviet period (1956-1991) tell us about debates on the past, and how they reflect the conflict or association between “Soviet” and “national” identity. I shall also consider how the institutional organization of the cinema (with expectation that all film artists should train in Moscow, yet also devolution of cultural production to studios in the different republics) contributed to the paradoxical status of cinema as a state-sponsored art form, under tight central control, that also fostered “alternative thinking” (raznomyslie).

About the Speaker

Catriona Kelly is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Soviet Culture at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Among her books are the prize-winning Children’s World: Growing Up in Russia, 1890-1991 (Yale University Press, 2007), Comrade Pavlik: The Rise and Fall of a Soviet Boy Hero (Granta Books, 2005; Russian translation 2009), St Petersburg: Shadows of the Past (Yale University Press, 2014; Russian translation 2022), Soviet Art House: Lenfilm Studio under Brezhnev (Oxford University Press, 2021) and Russian Food from 1800: Empire at Table (Bloomsbury “Russian Shorts” 2024). She is currently working on Making History: Films about the Past in the USSR, 1956-1991.


Bunche Hall 10383
(10th floor of Bunche Hall)
315 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095


Parking Structure 5 is closest to the event venue. Parking Structure 5 is accessible from Royce Drive, south of Sunset Boulevard, and west of Hilgard Ave. (in the northeast section of the campus). Alternatively, Parking Structure 4 is also close to the venue and has Pay-By-Space Visitor Parking available. Guest drop/Ride-share drop off is closest at the turnaround at the front of Royce Hall located at: 10745 Dickson Court, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Accessible parking: If you have accessibility needs, you may park in the Pay-By-Space/Visitor Parking area on the rooftop (level 5) of this structure, and proceed to the Self-Service Pay Station machine to pay by credit card. Please visit our Campus Accessibility Map to view related information.

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Download file: Kelly-Flyer-mt-idq.pdf

Sponsor(s): Center for European and Russian Studies

13 Feb 24
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

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