Spring 2024 History UN3274 section 001

Collapse: The Fall and Afterlife of the

Collapse of Soviet Union

Call Number 14736
Day & Time
W 4:10pm-6:00pm
610 Lewisohn Hall
Points 4
Grading Mode Standard
Approvals Required None
Instructor Yana Skorobogatov
Method of Instruction In-Person
Course Description

On Christmas Day 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev ended two things: his tenure as President of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union itself. The following day, Boris Yeltsin entered office as the first president of the Russian Federation, and without delay, began to institute radical economic and social reforms. Under his watch, the country privatized national industry, cut the state budget, and courted foreign multinational businesses. The world most commonly used to describe Russia in the early 1990s is “disappear”: money, jobs, food, and people. The very things that Soviet-style socialism had committed itself to providing for started to vanish as a result of invisible and market forces. At the same time as they were being told to welcome the approaching era of capitalist abundance, ordinary Russians were scrambling to cope with and recover from all that appeared to be suddenly and permanently missing from their pay stubs, kitchen tables, and family photographs.

This course will explore what emerged in the spaces left empty after Soviet-style socialism’s demise. The course will be divided into three parts. The first part of the semester will examine the origins of the Soviet Union’s collapse and its breakup into fifteen successor states. Who was Mikhail Gorbachev, and why did the reforms instituted as part of glasnost and perestroika fail to revitalize the Soviet system? How did citizens - elites and average people alike - from Russia, the Soviet republics, and satellite states witness the collapse, and how did they manage the immediate transition to capitalism? The second part of the semester will survey the political, economic, and social processes that followed the collapse. How did former Soviet citizens reintegrate themselves in the new economies, political movements, and social structures that emerged in the Russian Federation under Yeltsin? In what ways did privatization and the arrival of foreign capital shape labor practices, consumer habits, the natural and built environment, and forms of cultural expression? What forms did nationalist movements in the former republics and and Warsaw Pact countries take? Finally, the third part of the course will focus on Putin’s ascendancy to the presidency and its consequences for Russian citizens at home and Russia’s image abroad. We will consider the role that memory and myth play in the formation of a “United Russian” consciousness, the costs and benefits of life in Putin’s Russia, and the

Web Site Vergil
Department History
Enrollment 12 students (14 max) as of 9:06PM Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Subject History
Number UN3274
Section 001
Division Interfaculty
Note Add to waitlist & see instructions on SSOL
Section key 20241HIST3274W001