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GBST 247
Altering States: Post-Soviet Paradoxes of Identity and Difference Fall 2020
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed SOC 248 / GBST 247 / RUSS 248

Class Details

Critics and apologists of Soviet-style socialism alike agree that the Soviet ideology was deeply egalitarian. Putting aside for a moment the very reasonable doubts about how justified this perception actually was, it is still worth asking, how did people who lived in the world in which differences in rank, class, gender or ethnicity were not supposed to matter, make sense of their postsocialist condition, one in which new forms of difference emerged, and old ones assumed greater prominence? And how do these encounters with difference impact current events, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict or the persistent tensions between East and West Germans? This tutorial will examine new dilemmas through ethnographic studies and documentary films that aim to capture in real time the process of articulating and grappling with newly discovered divides. We will focus especially closely on Russia, but will also read studies on East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia and Ukraine. This course fulfills the DPE requirement by exploring comparatively the ways in which people in different countries made sense of the social, cultural and political heterogeneity of the postsocialist condition.
The Class: Format: tutorial; The course will meet remotely for the most part, although in-person meetings with the appropriate precautions may be arranged at the tutorial partners' and instructor's discretion.
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 2000
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: 5-page paper every other week, written comments on the partner's paper in alternate weeks
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology, Sociology, and Russian majors
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
SOC 248 Division II GBST 247 Division II RUSS 248 Division I
WS Notes: This is a tutorial course, with plenty of opportunities to work on writing and argumentation. Tutorial papers receive written feedback from both the instructor and the tutorial partner, and are workshopped during the tutorial meetings.
DPE Notes: Students will learn to identify and interrogate processes of social differentiation and exclusion as they take place across Russia and Eastern Europe. We will also train ourselves to identify parallels, as well as differences, between responses to the social and economic uncertainty ushered by the fall of socialism, and the discontents triggered by similar conditions closer to home.
Attributes: GBST Russian + Eurasian Studies Electives

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