Models of selfhood and subjectivity: The Soviet case in historical perspective

Choi Chatterjee, Karen Petrone

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50 Scopus citations


In this essay Choi Chatterjee and Karen Petrone examine some of the paradigms of selfhood that western scholars have used to understand Soviet subjectivity. They start with an analysis of how racialized western discourses about the backward Russian national character were transformed into representations of the totalitarian Soviet self seen as a passive receptacle for the ideological excesses of the regime. Revisionist historians have argued against this model and have shown how the pragmatic Soviet subject both internalized and resisted the Soviet norms of selfhood. In the third wave, scholars have used the model of the normative self to plot the internal processes through which citizens attempted to align their souls with the demands of Stalinist ideology. Chatterjee and Petrone conclude with the scholars' analysis of the banal self, or the situation of Soviet selfhood in intimate and private spheres of existence that necessitated multiple negotiations and compromises with the theoretical norms of state-sponsored subjectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-986
Number of pages20
JournalSlavic Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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