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Dissent

The word dissent comes from the Latin word dissidens (discordant) and in political theory means a refusal to collaborate with a recognized authority (social, cultural, or governmental). In the former USSR, dissidents were people who disagreed with specific aspects of Soviet ideology and spoke out against them. Small groups of marginalized intellectuals, self-identifying as dissidents, lived under party-state systems, yet embraced non-conformism, which they believed was for the good of society.  Their views were often punished by official ideology. This theme is important, as dissent has often been associated with the act of critical thinking and reading, which is how historians seek to understand and approach source material. Our Educational Platform offers materials involving politics and political prisoners, but we also focus on other forms of non-conformism, such as alternative urban life, or subcultures. When looking at the topic of dissent, history reveals that the struggle for recognition that defined the experiences of those with dissenting identities (minorities, or other excluded groups of people) is central to democratic politics. This theme promotes more meaningful understandings of identity and, with that, a historical conception of politics that is more inclusive and diverse.

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Documents (8)

Image for Reaction of the USSR workers to the Soviet-Chinese conflict in July-December, 1929
Reaction of the USSR workers to the Soviet-Chinese conflict in July-December, 1929
The presented report shows the reaction of population in the USSR to the Soviet-Chinese conflict in July-December, 1929 over the control on Chinese Eastern Railway. The text includes opinions expressed by workers from Ukrainian industrial plants and mines in their private conversations, and in the work teams. They illustrate a wide range of opinions dominating in society: from ardent support of the Soviet Union in the conflict, and calls to go to the front, to denying the need for confrontation. It must be highlighted that discussions of the condition and provisions in the Soviet Army would often end up in reflections about the causes of internal economic problems in the country. Many workers...
Image for Response from workers of the USSR to Stalin’s article “Dizzy with Success,” 1930
Response from workers of the USSR to Stalin’s article “Dizzy with Success,” 1930
This report was drafted by the political special service authority of the USSR named the State Political Board (SPD, functioned in 1922-1934) for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CC CP(b)U). It records the reactions of the population of the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) to the article by Stalin “Dizziness From Success (Concerning Questions of the Collective-Farm Movement)” published in the Pravda newspaper on March, 2, 1930. The text includes opinions expressed by workers from Ukrainian industrial plants and mines in their private conversations, and in the work teams. They are mostly quite skeptical and critical about collectivization, the activities of the party, and about Stalin in particular....
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Uliana Starosolska’s memories on her deportation from Lviv to Kazakhstan in 1940
Uliana Starosolska (Lviv 1912 – New York 2011), a Ukrainian journalist and writer deported by the Soviets from her home city of Lviv to Kazakhstan at the time of World War II together with her mother Dariia Shuhevych-Starosolska (a pianist, journalist and editor) and older brother Ihor Starosolsky (in future an architect and restorer). The family was sent there to follow her father Volodymyr Starosolskyi, a lawyer repressed in 1940. In 1946 Uliana and her brother came back from the exile. She settled down in Poland, graduated from Poznan University and got her degree in economics. Since 1967 Uliana resided in the USA. She was the editor of the Ukrainian emigrant journal "Nashe...
Image for Secret report on the moods among Kharkiv factory workers at the time of May Day holidays in 1929
Secret report on the moods among Kharkiv factory workers at the time of May Day holidays in 1929
The presented report illustrates types of information that are hard to find in other sources. Those are conversations during a celebratory demonstration. In the source text, we can see that people found pressing issues more important than party slogans. Workers were mostly interested in the availability of bread, work, and free sale of alcohol on festive days. Certainly, the quotes and statements of people presented in the report do not represent the entire range of topics discussed during the demonstrations. However, they allow us to at least take a look behind the settings of official manifestations. It is critical, for in 1929, Soviet celebration canon was still on the development stage. It is...
Image for Excerpt from a 2013 interview with Lviv Puppet Theater actress: War, Gulag, Space Race
Excerpt from a 2013 interview with Lviv Puppet Theater actress: War, Gulag, Space Race
This is an excerpt from an interview with an actress in Lviv made in 2013. This actress talks about her wartime experience under German occupation and touches on the various cultural institutions she attended during the war. She went to the Lviv Opera Theater, run 1941-1944 by famous actor and director Volodymyr Blavatsky, who had worked with Kurbas’ Berezil and created a name for himself in avant-garde theater in Poland. He left for the west in 1944. She notes Lesia Kryvytska, an actress who worked in interwar Poland, Nazi-occupied Lviv, and then settled at the Maria Zankovetska Theater in postwar Lviv. She also mentions studying ballet at the Opera’s dance studio. Her mention...
Image for Attitudes towards “Leninopad” in interview responses of Euromaidan’ participants, 2013-2014
Attitudes towards “Leninopad” in interview responses of Euromaidan’ participants, 2013-2014
The quotes from the interview published here are part of the project "The Voices of Euromaidan in Global Protest and Solidarity Studies". The project focuses on the edited and thematically organized materials from the collection of oral history interviews called "Voices of Resistance and Hope," that were recorded in two stages, the first in December 2013 and the second in February 2014 (more then 100 interviews). They were gathered in the base "Intimate Chronologies of the Euromaidan", which is available on Urban Media Archive website. This collection includes 17 themetical categories. “Leninopad” is one of them. The answers given in this category indicate the attitudes towards Lenin's monuments, to specific forms of urban...
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The Soviet government aimed to profoundly transform the styles and structures of people’s everyday lives, encompassing housing, leisure, and work. Particularly ambitious projects were conceived and executed during the 1920s and 1930s. Workers were at the forefront of Soviet social policy, with the Bolshevik Communist Party depicted in Soviet discourse as the avant-garde of the proletariat, primarily serving the interests of the working class. 

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Syllabi (3)

The course aims at a critical, in-depth exploration of how sexuality is intertwined with other epistemic categories and social differentials from a decolonial perspective and how the project of decolonization might look in the context of Ukraine. The course was created for Invisible University for Ukraine certificate program of the Central European University.
This lecture course comparatively and transnationally investigates twentieth-century communism as a modern civilization with a global outreach. It looks at the global spread of communism as an ideology, an everyday experience, and a form of statehood in the Soviet Union, Europe, Asia (i.e.Mao’s China), and post-colonial Africa. With the exception of North America and Australia, communist regimes were established on all continents of the world. The course will examine this historical process from the October Revolution (1917) to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (1986), which marked the demise of the communist state. The emphasis is not just on state-building processes or Cold War politics but primarily on the social, gender, cultural and economic policies that...
This course covers the period from the partitions of Poland through the Russian and Habsburg Empires, the Soviet Union and interwar Poland. Students will familiarize with the geopolitical results of Russia’s westward and Austria’s eastward expansions and will focus among other overarching themes on the shtetl, the unique East European Jewish habitat; on Hasidism, a Ukraine-born popular movement of religious enthusiasm; on the interaction between Zionists and Ukrainian nationalists in Galicia; on the development of Ukrainization and Yiddishization (or Ukrainian and Jewish korenizatsiia) in the 1920s and the situation of Jews in Poland in the 1920s; on the Holocaust and its aftermath; on Ukrainians and Jews in the dissident movement; and on Jewish-Ukrainian...