198099 Saint Petersburg
17 Promyshlennaya Ulitsa, Room 107
190008 Saint Petersburg
16 Soyuza Pechatnikov Ulitsa
The Department of History was created in 2012. The overarching goal of the department is systematic development of the field of global, comparative, and transnational history as a potent tool of overcoming the limitations of national history canon, fostering interdisciplinary dialogue in the field of social sciences and humanities, and brining new public relevance to historical knowledge. The department mission includes the development of new type of historical undergraduate and graduate education in Russia and pioneering new research fields in Russian historiography in dialogue with the global historical profession.
Edited by: D. Moon, N. Breyfogle, A. Bekasova.
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In spring 2021, the course was taught jointly by Professors Elena Kochetkova and Kirill Chunikhin from the Department of history at HSE University, and Professor Tatiana Saburova from the Indiana University. Due to the Covid-pandemic, this was a fully online course consisting of lectures and seminars as well as project work in mixed groups of students. Designed as a profound discussion of classic and fresh scholarly interpretations, the course also served for developing a dialog between Russian and American students. As HSE student Ekaterina Kokovikhina says, "this was an outstanding opportunity to take part in the course dedicated to the tensional period of communism and capitalism confrontation predictably named as ‘Cold War’ in G. Orwell 1945 writing".
The course did not present a classic perspective of the Cold War as a binary confrontation of two systems but examined this period via the lens of multiple interpretations. Thus, along with must-know phenomena and events, such as the Cuba missile crisis and Soyuz-Apollo flight, the students learned about other fronts of the Cold War, such as the decolonization and the Cold War rivalry for the Third world, cultural and scientific contacts of the East and West, among others. Discussions focused on new historiographical perspectives on the Cold War, which can be interpreted as a cooperation of institutions and individuals on the micro level. This perspective specifically considers the roles of international and national exhibitions and trade fairs, cultural exchanges and scientific projects.
The joint research project was a crucial part of the course: students were split into five groups to undertake a survey on selected topics, ranging from Cold War childhood to technopolitical projects of the Soviet Union in Africa. Nikita Karbasov, a HSE student, found this course particularly useful in terms of soft skills: collaborative projects with students of Indiana University allowed practicing academic networking. Furthermore, combining students from the two universities was academically efficient since it allowed discussing contemporary perception of the Cold War from both American and former Soviet sides.
"The course was not only beneficial in terms of exchange students that provided their own perspectives apart from dichotomy between the USSR and the USA. Besides, as participants of the course we benefited from discussing a diverse number of topics in the Cold War context such as ideologies, technologies, politics (technopolitics), everyday life and culture. Such variety of the topics was possible due to assortment of the scientific interests among three professors who were responsible for the course. All that was helpful to reconcile historical perspective with current political situation. In other words, we indeed quite unexpectedly attempted to briefly rethink the Cold War across the ocean, turning the title of the course into reality," Karbasov comments.
Part of the course was an experimental seminar with the Smith College designed as a short discussion session with HSE students. Split into mixed small groups, HSE and Smith students discussed the seminal Strugatsky brothers’ novel Roadside Picnic and its highly original "adaptation"-Tarkovsky’s movie Stalker. During a zoom-session, students also shared their interpretations of stereotypes about Russian and America, paying specific attention to the relevance of Cold-War realities for today.