Performing on the International Stage: Tourism to the Capitalist West

Anne E. Gorsuch

in All this is your World

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199609949
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731853 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Modern European History

Performing on the International Stage: Tourism to the Capitalist West

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Tourists to western Europe served a political function, sent abroad as envoys for "peaceful coexistence" between socialist East and capitalist West. Carefully chosen travelers from various Soviet national republics combined in ensembles meant to perform a new internationalist, post-Stalinist Soviet identity for curious if sometimes hostile audiences. They sang Soviet songs in trains and on buses, handed out thousands of souvenir pins, met with foreign dignitaries and journalists, answered questions and gave lectures. Tourism as a form of cold war diplomacy differed from other forms of cultural contest in the Cold War, however, in that it required relatively ordinary citizens -- in contrast to the more usual delegates, artists, and scientists -- to perform Soviet identity on the basis of modest training. This chapter considers tourism as theater, issues of surveillance, problem behavior, and the response of locals to Soviet performances.

Keywords: Tourism; Khrushchev; Western Europe; performance; cultural diplomacy; propaganda; surveillance; Cold War; peaceful coexistence; ritual

Chapter.  11891 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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