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Panel 300, ICAS 2017

When Jul 23, 2017
from 11:30 AM to 01:15 PM
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Convenor: Boram Shin, Asia-Pacific Research Center at Hanyang University, South Korea
Chair: Siddharth Saxena, Cambridge Central Asia Forum, United Kingdom




The panel focuses on people and ideas that traveled across Eurasia during the Cold War era to investigate how mobility and encounters reaffirmed or challenged boundaries created by ideological and/or regional divisions. It asks the questions of (1) how the boundaries set by the East-West rivalry and the regional divisions have shaped, located, and mapped out Eurasia; (2) vice-versa, how the physical and imagined space of Soviet and post-Soviet Eurasia influenced mobility within/without Asia; and ultimately (3) what the experience of crossing these boundaries contributes to our understanding of the Cold War (and the post-Cold War era). First paper by Murashkin discusses Moscows conceptualization of Asia inside and outside the Soviet borders and its use of Central Asia as an instrument of diplomacy towards the Third World. Murashkin focuses major international events and institutions hosted in Tashkent, a major Central Asian Soviet city. The second paper by Shin looks at the activities of Soviet Korean cultural figures who travelled to North Korean in the post-Korean War era. Their mission was to rebuild national culture of the Korean people as well as implanting a seed of socialist realist culture in the newly-emerging socialist nation. By tracing Soviet Koreans journey to the ancestral homeland and their reproductions of socialist nationalist narrative, Shin attempts to address the questions of Cold War era identity of a Soviet minority and the meaning of imagined borders. If Murashkins and Shins papers deal with official exchanges at a hub, Kudaibergenovas paper investigates migrant identity at the Kazakh-Chinese border and revisits the question of socialisms periphery.

Central Asia as Soviet window to the Asian Third World before and after Sino-Soviet split: Instrumentalisation of Islam and Regionalisation of Socialism?
Nikolay Murashkin, Griffith Asia Institute, Australia

Since late 1960s, Tashkent started receiving an international spotlight both in terms of high politics and cultural events. Tashkent and other Central Asian cities raised their profile an education destinations for future Third World leaders from Islamic countries, such as Afghani leaders or future Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Twinning ties were also forged at the republican level, for example, with certain prefectures in Japan via the prisoner-of-war connection. As Japan became the first Asian country to join the OECD in 1964, its developed status was still recent at the time. Large communities of Koreans deported by Stalin to Central Asia were considered a resource by Moscow for its ties with Pyongyang. Incidentally, Soviet Pacific cities at the time did not have a profile of Asian hubs. Meanwhile, Sino-Soviet split has gained traction by mid-1960s, not only creating tensions at the border (including Central Asia), but also transforming the socialist camp into a duopoly with resulting inter-communist competition for the Third World. During these interactions with recently decolonised or emerging nations, Uzbeks and other Central Asians still remained incorporated within an empire, notwithstanding the officially highlighted contrast between Tsarist colonial policies and Soviet-era modernisation, especially that of the post-war and post-Stalin period. This is why, in my view, intra-Asian interactions between the Second and Third Worlds represent a particular research interest they were taking place between newly and alternatively modernising agents with shared precolonial and pre-modern Silk Road heritage, thus indirectly juxtaposing not only capitalism and communism, but also ongoing hegemonies.

Between Two Asias: Soviet Koreans in North Korea, 1952-1958
Boram Shin, Asia-Pacific Research Center at Hanyang University, South Korea

The Korea War (19501953) was the earliest outbreak of hot wars of the Cold War. The war had impacts on not only the United States and the Soviet Unions policy towards unstable Asian states. It also served as a warning sign for the Asian nations that had with great difficulty gained independence from their European metropoles and were heading towards the rocky road of decolonization. The wars significance was also discussed by Soviet writers and cultural figures who were in charge of creating a socialist Asian solidarity. Among the culture figures also included the Soviet Korean writers and artists who were sent to post-Korean War North Korea with the mission of rebuild national culture of the North Korean peoples. The Soviet Koreans, who had originally settled in the Russian Far East before they were deported to Central Asia in the 1930s by Stalins regime. The Soviet Korean writers and artists sent to North Korea served as the missionaries of Soviet modernity that was promised to all those who would turn to socialism. In collaboration with Korean writers and cultural figures, some of whom defected from South Korea, laid the foundation for North Korean cultural institutions. This paper engages with the travelogues and memoirs of Soviet-born Korean intellectuals who had to reconstruct their identity as a Soviet citizen and Korean national.
Borders, Identities and Nationness in the Socialist Asian Periphery
Diana Kudaibergenova, Lund University, Sweden

The paper investigates the dialectic of the borderline identities and cultural encounters between the Soviet Central Asia and the other perceived socialist Asian peripheries, namely Xinjiang in the Peoples Republic of China. Formerly united, this region was divided in between the Soviet Union and Communist China leaving the fragile borderlines and divided communities in the two socialist worlds set apart. In this study I approach the border divide as a physical encounter and boundary for the migration as a divide but also authentic cultural encounters beyond the ideological slogans of the two dominant regimes in the comparative historical perspective. The study draws on the numerous transborder memories, on contemporary diaspora interviews in Khorgos on the Kazakh-Chinese border, in Urumqi, Almaty and Bishkek, and on the transborder literature and intellectual thoughts to unveil the duality of such concepts as socialism, class, modernization and nationness under two different regimes in the Soviet Union and Communist China during the Cold War and during its aftermath. The study, thus, investigates how the rare physical transborder mobility and censored cultural dialogues of the Cold War era influenced the regional and geographical divide of the formerly united territorial and cultural space.