Cold War Multiculturalism: The Clash of American and Soviet Models of Difference


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Modern Thought and Literature


This study traces the interactions of American and Soviet models of minority uplift, focusing on how “the Second World” shaped ethnic literatures in the United States. In the 1920s and 30s, many Jewish and African American intellectuals looked to the USSR as a beacon of equality, expressed as “multi-national-ness” (mnogonatsional’nost’). However, by the 1950s, most of these intellectuals grew disillusioned with the Soviet Union, due both to Stalinism and anti-communism. As a result, embrasures of socialist internationalism gave way to notions of “cultural authenticity,” as manifested in Jewish-American, African-American, and Asian-American literatures, later employed by state organs to counter Soviet propaganda on US segregation.