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Chakrabarti, Gautam ORCID: 0000-0002-9466-5518 (8. May 2019): From Moscow with love. Soviet cultural politics across India in the Cold War. In: Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2: pp. 239-257


One of the less researched aspects of postcolonial India’s “progressive” culture is its Soviet connection. Starting in the 1950s and consolidating in the 1960s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics invested in building up “committed” networks amongst writers, directors, actors, and other theater- and film-practitioners across India. Thus, an entire generation of cultural professionals was initiated into the anticolonial solidarity of emerging Afro-Asian nations that were seen, and portrayed, by the Soviets as being victims of “Western” imperialism. The aspirational figure of the New Soviet Man was celebrated through the rise of a new form of “transactional sociality” (Westlund 2003). This paper looks at selected cases of cultural diplomacy—through the lens of cultural history—between the USSR and India for two decades after India’s Independence, exploring the possibility of theorizing it from the perspective of an anticolonial cultural solidarity that allowed agency to Indian interlocutors.