Conversations: Reflections on the Soviet Experience

Conversations: Reflections on the Soviet Experience
Join the University of Chicago Graham School, in partnership with the Soviet Arts Experience, for a series of three conversations on the social and political environment of the Soviet era.
Conversations will be led by Martha Merritt, Associate Dean for International Education at the University of Chicago.

On October 6th, Slavic professor Robert Bird will discuss how artists dealt with the constraints on free expression in the Soviet Union and, in the process, will challenge our assumptions about the way media functioned under Communism. What were the similarities and differences between the media systems of the USSR and the United States? Both served to form social identities, but also to provide a space for expression, even in conditions of repression and oppression. A particular focus will be the final years of Soviet rule, when a clumsy political system was being challenged by technologically savvy media pioneers.

On October 13th, political scientist John Mearsheimer will talk about the legacy of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. In 1990, Professor Mearsheimer wrote a provocative article for the Atlantic Monthly entitled, “Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War,” in which he noted that the conditions that had made for decades of peace in the West were fast disappearing. He noted that we may “wake up one day lamenting the loss of the order that the Cold War gave to the anarchy of international relations.” Have we reached the day?

On October 20th, human rights scholar Jennifer Amos will shed light on what human rights meant in Soviet society. The communist government was among the most vocal advocates of what it called cultural, economic, and social rights, as well as the rights of minority and colonial peoples. It introduced universal education, universal health care, and eliminated unemployment. At the same time, the Soviet Union built one of the most notorious systems of forced labor camps and created elaborate networks to spy on its citizens. Since the fall of communism, Western conceptions of human rights have received mixed reactions at best. Why is this the case?


All conversations take place from 6 to 7:30 pm at
University of Chicago Gleacher Center
450 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive

Each lecture is $10, or free for University students who present a valid ID. To register, or for more information, click here.

For more information please contact Sarah Pesin in the Graham School Partnerships Office at or 773.702.2768.

Posted in: Chicago Events, Soviet Arts Experience, University of Chicago Events

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