The End of History: Radical Responses to the Soviet Collapse


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation is a cultural history of the collapse of the USSR, focused on the highly visible flourishing of radical spiritual movements and worldviews that emerged in Soviet cities at that time. The collapse saw an abrupt and traumatic end to the Soviet world, and the values and orientations that Soviet people had long taken for granted. The project is comprised of five case studies, each examining problems people faced at that time, and the beliefs—esoteric or dogmatic, foreign or homespun, utopian or apocalyptic—that they adopted as solutions. These seekers, mostly of the urban, educated middle class, looked beyond conventional political philosophies or the USSR’s traditional faiths toward more radical conceptions of the world and the place of humans within it. Their stories speak to the nature of Soviet ideology, exposed as it unraveled, and to the common features of societies undergoing crisis.