Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades

Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades

Celebrations in the Time of Stalin
Karen Petrone
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/22/2000
Format: Hardback 22 b&w photos, 1 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-33768-9
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Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades
Celebrations in the Time of Stalin
Karen Petrone

A lively investigation of the official and unofficial meanings of Stalinist celebrations.

An impressive and highly readable book that... casts a clear and disturbing light on the relationship of Stalinist mythology, state power, popular participation, and the unending complexities of social and cultural survival mechanisms and daily life." —Richard Stites

In the Soviet Union in the 1930s, public celebrations flourished while Stalinist repression intensified. What explains this coincidence of terror and celebration? Using popular media and drawing extensively on documents from previously inaccessible Soviet archives, Karen Petrone demonstrates that to dismiss Soviet celebrations as mere diversion is to lose a valuable opportunity for understanding how the Soviet system operated. As the state attempted to mobilize citizens to participate in the project to create New Soviet men and women, celebration culture became more than a means to distract a population suffering from poverty and deprivation. The planning and execution of celebrations reflected the Soviet intelligentsia’s efforts to bring social and cultural enlightenment to the people. Physical culture demonstrations, celebrations of Arctic and aviation exploits, the Pushkin Centennial of 1937 and the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution, and the celebration of New Year’s Day were opportunities for the Soviet leadership to fuse traditional prerevolutionary values and practices with socialist ideology in an effort to educate its citizens and build support for the state and its policies. However, official celebrations were often appropriated by citizens for purposes that were unanticipated and unsanctioned by the state. Through celebrations, Soviet citizens created hybrid identities and defined their places in the emerging Stalinist hierarchy, allowing them to uphold the Soviet order while arrests

Author Bio

Karen Petrone is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Kentucky.


“[T]his rich book makes a significant contribution to the historiography of the Stalin era. . . .as I read about the celebrations of Arctic explorers, the pages seemed to turn themselves. The book deserves a broad audience of specialists in Russian and Soviet history, as well as those interested in cultural transformation, popular culture, and state-society relations.46 2012”
 — Canadian American Slavic Studies

“" . . . a fine book that will provoke much debate and discussion of the Soviet experience and of the official cutlure that lent it form and meaning." —Slavic Review A lively history of Soviet celebration, Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades focuses on cultural practices of Stalin's Soviet Union. The work analyzes how Soviet and Party leaders of the 1930s used celebrations to promote legitimacy and authority while ordinary Soviet citizens appropriated these events to express alternative, even subversive, viewpoints.”

“This is a sophisticated and accessible study of the use of mass celebrations by the Stalin Regime in the mid to late 1930s. These celebrations followed the massive disruptions and privations of the First Five-Year Plan and peaked at the height of the Stalin purges. Some celebrations were designed to mobilize the masses and engage them in Soviet popular culture (New Year's fir tree, parades); other celebrations focused on high culture and politics and were directed more to the intelligentsia and the Party (the Pushkin Centennial, The Stalin Constitution). Petrone looks not only at the discourse and goals of the celebrations, but at how they actually played out. She contrasts their impact in Moscow and the provinces, urban and rural areas, and among the Russians and the non-Russian nationalities. To what extent, she asks, did fear generated by the purges help or hinder the cadre in organizing and carrying out orders from the center? To what degree did the discourse of celebration awaken political consciousness among the masses and allow for subtle dissent? This book is based on extensive archival research and a rich collection of published primary and secondary sources. Recommended for college, university, research, and public libraries.July 2001”
 — E. M. Despalatovic, Connecticut College

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