Chronicle

Westernization in the 1970s
July 9, 2015
On July, 9, 2015, at 18.30, the Center for Urban History hosted a lecture by Serhiy Zhuk on "Modernity and Westernization of Soviet Ukraine. The Role of the 1970s."

How were Western pop culture products such as the music of rock bands "Shocking Blue" and "Deep Purple" shaping national and religious identity of young people in Soviet Ukraine in the 1970s? How did consumption of Western pop culture products relate to the notions of "modernity" / "trendiness" in the Soviet Ukraine in late socialism period? Why did mass consumption of Western movies and pop-music among urban youth in that period lead to massive Russification of youth culture in Soviet Ukraine? How did cultural practices related with mass consumption of Western pop culture influence commercialization of everyday life in Soviet Ukrainian cities? How did they foster establishment of some commercial skills with the generation of the 1970s who came to play an important role in economics and politics of post-Soviet Ukraine? How did mass commercialization of Soviet youth culture of the 1970s turn out to be related with "Comsomol entrepreneurship" that laid the foundations for further business initiatives of post-Soviet Ukraine businessmen (and politicians) such as Yuliya Tymoshenko, Ihor Kolomoyskyi, and Petro Poroshenko? The presentation by Serhiy Zhuk touched upon the questions and many other issues. In particular, it would enlarge on "cultural" history of the period of "de-escalation of international tension" in relations between the USSR and Western capitalist states in the 1970s.

As a rule, most "de-escalation" historians usually focus on diplomatic and political aspects of improved international relations between the Soviet Union and a capitalist Western world in the 1970s. At the same time, researchers of Westernization of Soviet and post-Soviet geopolitical environment ignore a decisive role of the period of international de-escalation of 1972-1979. In fact, the period actually opened up this space for massive impact of Western pop-culture through various "media" (audio and video) forms of "cultural consumption" and different cultural practices. Serhiy Zhuk studied different sources (from cities, towns and villages of Cherkasy, Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, and Mykolayiv regions) such as archive documents, contemporary local press, personal diaries and interviews and used them in this lecture to analyze how consumption of western pop culture objects by young people in Soviet Ukraine did influence the processes of cultural identification that eventually shaped various identities in a post-Soviet Ukraine.

Serhiy Zhuk is a Doctor of History. In the 1980-1990s, he lectured on the History of the USA at Dnipropetrovsk National University. In 2002, he presented his new doctoral thesis on the history of Eastern Europe at John Hopkins University, USA. Since 2003, Serhiy Zhuk has worked at Ball State University (Indiana, USA). Since 2010, he has held a position of a professor of East European History at this University. Some recent publications include books "Lost Reformation of Russia" (2004) and "Rock-and-roll in the City of Rockets" (2010). At present, he is working to complete his book on social and cultural history of Soviet American Studies in Russia and Ukraine in the Cold war period.