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Histories of color: Blackness and Africanness in the Soviet Union

Lynd, Hilary and Loyd, Thom 2022. Histories of color: Blackness and Africanness in the Soviet Union. Slavic Review 81 (2) , pp. 394-417. 10.1017/slr.2022.154

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What were the meanings of blackness in the Soviet Union? Marxist ideology offered no clear guidance for conceptualizing blackness, and the Russian Empire provided few historical references. But discrimination against people racialized as black was a major problem of the twentieth century that the Soviet Union was unable to ignore. As Soviet institutions and black people from different parts of the African continent and diaspora cultivated political and cultural connections, those connections entailed collisions among multiple ways of conceptualizing difference. Blackness could not easily be translated into Soviet taxonomies, but, propelled by a series of conjunctures in global politics, people never stopped looking for linkages and analogies. Two primary challenges, recurring in different forms over several eras, were: How was the Soviet Union to conceptualize the relationship between the African continent and the diaspora? And how should it relate racial dynamics elsewhere to domestic conditions within its own borders? Drawing on two scholars’ original fieldwork and recent scholarship in an emerging field, this article proposes a novel, interactive approach to the historical construction of blackness and Africanness in the USSR.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)
ISSN: 0037-6779
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 October 2022
Date of Acceptance: 11 January 2022
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2024 03:13

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