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Grant number like: FA-57508-13

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Eleonora Gilburd
New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2013 – 7/31/2014

The Soviet Union's Embrace of Cultural Exchange with the West during the Thaw of the 1950s and 1960s

My book focuses on the 1950s and 1960s - the Thaw - as a pivotal chapter in the centuries-long history of Russian westernization. An examination of the symbiosis between the foreign and the intimate, high diplomacy and quotidian life, my book analyzes the Soviet reception of Western texts, paintings, films, and melodies. Instead of the vocabulary of imitation and influence used to describe Russian-Western cultural relations, I propose the concept of ownership via translation. When they arrived en masse in the mid-1950s, Western objects, images, and sounds were outlandish. But in the process of cross-cultural transfer, the foreign became the quotidian, even intimate, an indiscernible part of late Soviet life. After the Soviet collapse, this cherished familiarity and claim to ownership brought a sense of dispossession for the Russians. The household melodies, names, and books that had become their precious belongings turned out to have been somebody else's property all along.