Patryk J. Babiracki
University of Texas at Arlington
E-Mail: babiracki [at] uta.edu
Soviet Soft Power and the Poles: The Battle for Hearts and Minds in Stalin’s New Empire, 1943-1957
The nine-month Volkswagen-Mellon post-doctoral fellowship at the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam (May-August of 2013, 14 and 15) will enable me to achieve two goals.
First, I shall be completing my monograph entitled "Soviet Soft Power and the Poles: The Battle for Hearts and Minds in Stalin’s New Empire, 1943-1957". Concentrating on the long, dark postwar decade, the book examines the little known Soviet efforts to build its postwar East European empire through culture - artistic and scientific contacts, mass media and student exchanges. It is common knowledge that East European communists after the Second World War duly executed Moscow's wishes as they launched a brutal transformation of the local societies, economies and cultures. Less known is that their ideas about how to use "soft power", or broadly-understood cultural cooperation, often had to compete with those of the vigilant Soviet officials who were responsible for cultural outreach. By showing that the Soviet authorities failed to secure a degree of popular legitimacy abroad through direct interventions, my study, based on Russian and Polish archival material, helps explain why the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe crumbled so easily in 1989-1991.
While in Potsdam, I shall also develop two new research projects, both of which examine transnational flows and roles of culture in the Soviet Bloc.