Peace and Human Agency in the USSR and post-Soviet countries in the 1980s-1990s
Perestroika is associated with the outward vector of change in the USSR: the announcement of a policy of “new political thinking,” the end of the Cold War, and beginning of the gradual transformation of the Soviet union from a “closed” type of society to an “open” one. This doctrinal transformation was a result of emotional shift both in the Soviet elite and in the wider social strata, a kind of “new political feeling and acting” “from below”. This fraction within the common project explores the history and the fate of the grassroots, nongovernmental initiatives in peace and nonviolence in post-Soviet space. The explosive growth of unprecedented grassroots peace activism was not only an aftermath of Gorbachev’s Perestroika from above, but its forerunner and self-sufficient companion as well.
This realm of the study arises on the crossroads of the Peace Studies and the new Social history approach, combining them with intellectual history and the history of emotions. The purpose of the research is highlighting the origins, strategy, ideology, and dynamics of peace and pacifist groups focusing on the following topics: neformaly for Peace (grassroots peace initiatives in the late 1980s – 1990s); the rise and fall of Peace Studies in Russia; the ideas of nonviolent protest in the late USSR and the former Soviet republics; transnational peace movements and post-Soviet civil society; conscientious objection and the history of the alternative civil service; Chechen wars and post-Soviet peace movement.
The key concept of this research – a notion of human agency - integrates the institutional, emotional and personal dimensions of the theme. The theoretical aim of the research is to understand, how during Perestroika people acquired, exerted and lost a subjectivity in the field of peace and nonviolence, what kind of institutions, values, symbols, traditions and other resources were engaged and how peace and pacifist groups interacted with state, each other, the rest of the society and foreign counterparts.