On SAGE Insight: Imperial Subjects in the Soviet Union: Perceptions of the West and the Soviet East – Re-Thinking Freedom and Authoritarianism

Article title: Imperial Subjects in the Soviet Union: M.N. Roy, Rabindranath Tagore, and Re-Thinking Freedom and Authoritarianism

From Journal of Contemporary History

Winner of the Ab Imperio Annual Best Paper Award

The compelling trope of ‘Russia and the West,’ or to be more precise, ‘Russia Under Western Eyes,’ has produced a vast and significant body of literature. This has helped in the political framing of the twentieth century as a world divided between the democratic and market-based nations of the West, and the dictatorial and state controlled countries in the Soviet East. This article in the Special Section: Russian Revolution – Global Impact (Guest Editor: Mary Neuburger) provides an overview of events and perceptions over the last 100 years that have had an impact on the political framing of the West and the Soviet East.

This article examines travel writings of two important Indian visitors to the Soviet Union, M.N. Roy and Rabindranath Tagore and shows that Europe’s imperial subjects filtered their impressions of Soviet authoritarianism through their own experiences of repressive Western imperialism, thus charting a new global map of political freedom. Roy and Tagore’s writings, powered by both their colonial and Soviet experiences, make a significant contribution to the twentieth-century intellectual debates on moral freedom, individualism, and authoritarianism.


Abstract

The compelling trope of ‘Russia and the West,’ or to be more precise, ‘Russia Under Western Eyes,’ has produced a vast and significant body of literature. This has helped in the political framing of the twentieth century as a world divided between the democratic and market-based nations of the West, and the dictatorial and state controlled countries in the Soviet East. Simultaneously, it has served to bury, blunt, and otherwise obscure perspectives from the colonized world on the East–West dichotomy. An analysis of the travel writings of two important Indian visitors to the Soviet Union, M.N. Roy and Rabindranath Tagore, shows that Europe’s imperial subjects filtered their impressions of Soviet authoritarianism through their own experiences of repressive Western imperialism, thus charting a new global map of political freedom. Roy and Tagore’s writings, powered by both their colonial and Soviet experiences, make a significant contribution to the twentieth-century intellectual debates on moral freedom, individualism, and authoritarianism.

Read this article here

Article details
Imperial Subjects in the Soviet Union: M.N. Roy, Rabindranath Tagore, and Re-Thinking Freedom and Authoritarianism
Choi Chatterjee
First Published October 2, 2017
DOI: 10.1177/0022009417716754
From Journal of Contemporary History

 

 

 

 

     
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