Mass celebrations were a central element of the Soviet propaganda state. Their elaborate choreographies didn’t just serve to represent power; they were also forms of emotional community-building. During the celebratory parade, the enthusiastic crowd was supposed to become aware of its own collective identity and approach the utopian goal of New Soviet Man that the regime had proclaimed as its vision for the future. The celebration planners in the party and state apparatus placed great faith in the emotional and transcendent effect of such mass orchestrations of jubilation. They developed intricate methods for a politics of emotions that aimed to animate, but also to control all the senses of the moved festive masses. For one of the concerns of the authoritarian regime was always to control and to discipline participants’ emotionality.
In my talk I will consider these conflicting objectives of the Soviet management of festive emotions. On the one hand I will discuss techniques of mass emotionalization, focusing on the spatial dimension of the politics of emotions. On the other hand I will question the longterm effects of these techniques on ways in which mass choreographies and the attendant emotions are experienced. I shall focus on the 1920s and 30s, but also discuss longterm developments, including the erosion of the Soviet mode of celebration and emotionality.
Malte Rolf studied history, German and Russian literature, and sociology at Humboldt University in Berlin, the University of Tübingen, Saint Petersburg State University, and the University of Voronezh. In 2004 he obtained his PhD at the University of Tübingen for a dissertation on Soviet mass festivals. In 2012 he defended his habilitation on “Imperial Rule in Vistula Land. The Kingdom of Poland and the Russian Empire (1864-1915)”. From 2007 to 2011 he was Junior Professor of East European History at Leibniz University in Hannover. In 2011-12 he was Visiting Professor of East and Central European History at Bremen University. In 2012 he was named Professor of Central and East European History at Otto Friedrich University in Bamberg. Selected publications: Zwischen parteistaatlicher Selbstinszenierung und kirchlichen Gegenwelten: Sphären von Öffentlichkeit in Gesellschaften sowjetischen Typs / Between the Great Show of the Party-State and Religious Counter-Cultures: Public Spheres in Soviet-Type Societies (hrsg. m. Gábor T. Rittersporn und Jan C. Behrends, 2003); Das sowjetische Massenfest (2006, in English: Soviet Mass Festivals, 2013); Rausch und Diktatur. Inszenierung, Mobilisierung und Kontrolle in totalitären Systemen (hrsg. m. Árpád von Klimó, 2006); Fest und Diktatur / Festivals and Dictatorship (hrsg. m. Dietrich Beyrau, 2006); Imperiale Biographien (Themenheft Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 40:1, 2014).