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Speaking for Those “Backward”: Gender and Ethnic Minorities in Soviet Silent Films
Abstract

Abstract:

The article is dedicated to the study of the cinematographic representations of two early Soviet emancipation projects: the emancipation of women and the emancipation of national minorities. In what ways did these two emancipation projects intersect? How were women of the “dominated” nations addressed and treated in the post-revolutionary years? In order to answer these questions I analyze three newsreels and six thematic films connected to the mentioned topics and produced between the mid-1920s and 1931. Films dealing with the “emancipation” of women not infrequently showed women from different regions, but, in addition to this intra-Soviet perspective on an all-Soviet dimension, I focus on several films dealing with the Volga-Ural region in particular. Soviet films from 1920 to the early 1930s give us more complex and multilateral information about both “emancipations” than do other Soviet documents. At the same time, they show that racialized images of “other” women were frequently used by Soviet filmmakers in order to emphasize the progress of the Soviet modernizing project.



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