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School of History

Out of the Marshes and into the Nuclear Age - CEREES Lecture

When: Monday, February 26, 2024, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Where: Montagu Lecture Theatre (GC601), Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London Mile End Road London E1 4NS, Mile End

'Out of the Marshes and into the Nuclear Age: The Politics of Modernisation in Late Soviet Belarus, 1965-1980' - Dr Natalya Chernyshova


About the Event:

Belarus emerged from the ashes of the Second World War to become the third most important Soviet republic. Previously a peasant borderland, it experienced a spectacular industrialisation leap in the first two post-war decades, which bore fruit and continued during the leadership of Petr Masherau, the Belarusian communist party’s chief in 1965-1980. Under Masherau, expansion and modernisation of industry were seen as political priorities, and the story of national ‘rags to riches’, which celebrated rapid industrial progress and achievements, was just as prominent in public discourse as the commemoration of the war. While historians have focused on war memory as the most important tool of Soviet Belarusian nation-building, this paper argues that in the long 1970s, the politics of modernisation in Belarus became not only the centrepiece of the Soviet regime’s legitimacy, but also a centrepiece of national Belarusian identity. Understanding its dynamics helps us understand how the late-Soviet empire functioned; it also helps explain Belarus’ post-socialist trajectory.


About the Speaker:

Natalya Chernyshova is Lecturer in Modern European History at Queen Mary University of London. Her research and publications focus on Belarusian history, Soviet nationalities politics, and everyday life during late socialism, including the monograph Soviet Consumer Culture in the Brezhnev Era (Routledge, 2013). She is currently writing her second monograph, a history of Soviet Belarus in the long 1970s told through the prism of life and career of its charismatic communist leader, Petr Masherau, a project funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship in 2020-22.


Event outline:

Welcome – 18:00

Lecture and discussion, chaired by Andy Willimott (QMUL) – 18:05

Drinks reception, meet the speaker – 19:10

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