[P4359] From Arab-Russian to Arab-Soviet Cultural Encounters: Are There Continuities?
Created by Margaret Litvin
Saturday, 11/19/16 2:00pm
SUMMARY:The USSR was socialist internationalism's "Red Mecca" for much of the twentieth century, successfully posing as both a role model and a mentor to progressives from the East, including the Arab world. With methods drawn from political and intellectual history, philology, and literary criticism, this interdisciplinary panel investigates several sets of cultural prehistories that made such a connection appear plausible. We ask: While being careful not to tell a simplistic story positing centuries of Arab-Russian friendship, is it possible to trace any real continuities? Does the recently identified overlap between "Orthodox and Communist" (Mack 2015) have meaning beyond Palestine? To what extent and how did Soviet cultural diplomacy build on a long history of Arab curiosity about and travel to Russia, Arab religious connections to Russia through Orthodox Christianity, and Arab engagements with Russian literature? This panel contributes to a timely and growing scholarly conversation (with successful panels at MESA 2012, MLA 2106, and several Slavics conferences) about Russia's cultural status in the Arab world.