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Rock and Roll in the Rocket City: The West, Identity, and Ideology in Soviet Dniepropetrovsk, 1960-1985

Rock and Roll in the Rocket City: The West, Identity, and Ideology in Soviet Dniepropetrovsk, 1960–1985 by Sergei I. Zhuk

Publisher

Woodrow Wilson Center Press with Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010

ISBN

978-0-8018-9550-0
Rock and Roll in the Rocket City: The West, Identity, and Ideology in Soviet Dniepropetrovsk, 1960–1985 by Sergei I. Zhuk

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How did rock music and other products of Western culture come to pervade youth culture in Brezhnev-era Dniepropetrovsk, a Ukrainian city essentially closed to outsiders and heavily policed by the KGB? In Rock and Roll in the Rocket City, Sergei I. Zhuk assesses the impact of Westernization on the city’s youth, examining the degree to which the consumption of Western music, movies, and literature ultimately challenged the ideological control maintained by state officials. One among many of his stories is how the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar led Dniepropetrovsk’s young people to embrace not just one, but two Soviet taboos: rock music and Christianity.

This book is the first historical study—in any language—of the everyday lives of Soviet urban youth during the Brezhnev era. A longtime student and resident of Dniepropetrovsk, Zhuk began research for this project in the 1990s. Weaving together diaries, interviews, oral histories, and KGB and party archival documents, he provides a vivid account of how Soviet cultural repression and unrest during the Brezhnev period laid the groundwork for a resurgent Ukrainian nationalism in the 1980s. In so doing, he demonstrates the influence of Western cultural consumption on the formation of a post-Soviet national identity.

Sergei Zhuk is an associate professor of history at Ball State University, and was a Title VIII-Supported Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute. He is the author of Russia’s Lost Reformation: Peasants, Millennialism, and Radical Sects in Southern Russia and Ukraine, 1830–1917, also published by the Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Johns Hopkins.

Rock and Roll in the Rocket City was discussed at the Wilson Center on October 18, 2010.

About the Author

Sergei I. Zhuk

Research Grant;
Professor of History, Ball State University
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Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American expertise and knowledge of Russia, Ukraine, and the region. Through its residential fellowship programs, public lectures, workshops, and publications, the Institute strives to attract, publicize, and integrate new research into the policy community.  Read more