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Africa and the Soviet Union: Technology, Ideology, and Culture

Image from Tempo magazine (10th April 1977)

Image from Tempo magazine (10th April 1977)

On Friday, October 13th, NYU Africa House co-sponsored a workshop entitled “Africa and the Soviet Union: Technology, Ideology, and Culture.” This workshop was hosted by the NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia and also co-sponsored by the NYU Department of History and the NYU Center for the Humanities

This one-day workshop explored the histories and legacies of Soviet-African relations in relation to large global processes that dominated the second half of the last century: decolonization, the growth of technical expertise, shifting political imaginations, the “fall” of socialism, the rise of international organizations. We asked how Africans shaped ideologies, institutions, and cultural ambitions in the Soviet Union in the context of the global Cold War, and explored the effect of Soviet connections on decolonization and state-building within the African continent.

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The NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia was established in 2011 thanks to a generous gift from the family of NYU alumni Boris and Elizabeth Jordan. The Jordans are a family of Russian-Americans with strong links in the worlds of business, culture, and religion on both sides of the Atlantic and a tradition of cultural sponsorship and philanthropy. The gift satisfied the twin goals of the donors: to promote knowledge and understanding of Russia past, present, and future, making Russia central to a global conversation; and to situate this ambition in a world-class research university in a vibrant center of business and the arts. The gift is their permanent testament to their roots in both countries, their commitment to their alma mater, and their nurturing of knowledge and the arts.

The gift is also testament to the achievements and future of Russian studies at NYU. NYU’s Russia-related faculty has been growing in stature, with a relatively young and dynamic faculty offering fresh and innovative perspectives of Russian history, culture, politics, and society. Our graduate students are growing in number and are occupying their positions in the academy nationwide. NYU’s Russia-related faculty and students are spread out over a wide array of departments and schools of the University. The function of the Center is to offer them a gathering point and a locus for greater and more concerted interaction and productive endeavor. Their disciplinary diversity will be focused on Russia, thereby enhancing the impact and influence of the University in the region and internationally, and offering to the public new perspectives on Russia in all its aspects.

Photo Credit: Messina Heather Jansen