Militarism in Post-Soviet Russia: War, Identity and Culture, 1990-2000

In this post, Swansea University PhD student Allyson Edwards explains her research project…

Scholarship about militarism in the Soviet Union and Russia concentrates on the role of men in the armed forces, with minimal focus on how the military culture affected the family unit or the women within it. This is surprising, considering the extent to which the military shaped Russian culture, society, and political life. Whilst men were glorified for their role in the military, women were praised for their role as the mother and wife of those within the armed forces. During the final years of the Soviet Union and the early years of the Russian federation, there were cutbacks in the army. Whilst the man lost his role within the army, the woman maintained her role as the mother and wife.

glory-to-the-mother-heroine

In July, I was awarded funding by the DTC-ESRC studentship to explore ‘Militarism in Post-Soviet Russia: War, Identity and Culture, 1990-2000.’ My project aims to understand the gendered aspects of militarism, more specifically the extent to which militarism in post-Soviet Russian culture reinforced the patriarchal social structures and in what ways demilitarisation shaped the post-Soviet Russian family. To achieve this, the project focuses on the soldiers that were demilitarised throughout the Yeltsin regime. It will utilise the diaries and memoirs of former soldiers and their partners to identify the extent to which the military defined their identity, how societal perceptions of the military transformed aspects and characteristics of masculinity, and the implications of this process for Russian politics, society, and culture.

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