Current Institutional Affiliation
History, Georgetown University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2017
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Georgetown University
Europe's Last Overseas Empire: The Soviet Union, Transnational Student Exchange, and the Black World after Stalin

Beginning in the mid-1950s, two phenomena began to change the place of the Soviet Union in the world. The first was its general "opening up to the world" following the death of Stalin in 1953, a central component of which was the institutionalization and expansion of student exchange with foreign countries. The second was its pivot away from fomenting revolution in the West towards supporting national revolutions and newly independent governments in Africa and Asia. As a result, by the early 1960s, thousands of African and Asian students were studying in Moscow each year. In doing so, the Soviet Union adopted a strategy that had been used by European and American policy-makers and educators since at least the late-nineteenth century to shape and reshape the minds of African and Asian youth in the mold of Western "civilization." This research looks at this movement of students through the lens of empire. How and why did the Soviet Union, the world's first socialist, anti-imperial state, come to adopt the methods of European and American empire in its relations with Third World students in the post-Stalin period? Drawing on Soviet, Western, and African official records, press reports, and the personal accounts of those individuals involved in these academic exchanges, this research will investigate the interaction between the British, American, and Soviet systems of educating Third World youth. In what ways did these countries influence one another in their relations with Africa; and how did Third World youth react to, engage with, or subvert the expectations put upon them by these educational regimes? And, most crucially, what is the significance of this for our understanding, not only of Soviet "empire" during late socialism, but of the Soviet Union's place within a broader system of European and American Third World policy during the second half of the twentieth century.