Lessons in everyday nationhood: childhood memories of ‘breaching’ the nation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Soviet nation-building project placed children at the center of complex and contradictory political socialization processes that aimed to simultaneously forge a common Soviet identity while promoting national languages and cultures. This ambitious nation-building project was explicitly taught in the official school curriculum and further reinforced through children’s participation in political youth organizations. But children learned the Soviet nationhood also through mundane, everyday practices. This article explores how children growing up in the Soviet Union became ‘national’ subjects in times and spaces where the nation was taught implicitly–and learned unselfconsciously–in the everyday. Building on the work of John Fox and others, the article makes ordinary, taken-for-granted expressions of nationalism visible by retelling childhood memories of ‘breaching’ the nation–that is, instances when the unspoken order of the Soviet ‘nation’ was unexpectedly upset and needed to be restored–through such everyday experiences as wearing (or not) a hair-bow or sharing jokes about bows in girls’ hair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalChildren's Geographies
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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state building
childhood
hair
Hair
state formation
political process
Socialization
USSR
nationalism
youth organization
curriculum
political socialization
Curriculum
everyday experience
joke
Language
Organizations
participation
language
school

Keywords

  • Banal nationalism
  • childhood memories
  • political socialization
  • Soviet school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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abstract = "The Soviet nation-building project placed children at the center of complex and contradictory political socialization processes that aimed to simultaneously forge a common Soviet identity while promoting national languages and cultures. This ambitious nation-building project was explicitly taught in the official school curriculum and further reinforced through children’s participation in political youth organizations. But children learned the Soviet nationhood also through mundane, everyday practices. This article explores how children growing up in the Soviet Union became ‘national’ subjects in times and spaces where the nation was taught implicitly–and learned unselfconsciously–in the everyday. Building on the work of John Fox and others, the article makes ordinary, taken-for-granted expressions of nationalism visible by retelling childhood memories of ‘breaching’ the nation–that is, instances when the unspoken order of the Soviet ‘nation’ was unexpectedly upset and needed to be restored–through such everyday experiences as wearing (or not) a hair-bow or sharing jokes about bows in girls’ hair.",
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