Ann Komaromi. Soviet Samizdat: Imagining a New Society. Ithaca, NY: Northern Illinois University Press, an imprint on Cornell University Press, 2022

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Barbara Martin


When we think of samizdat, we usually have in mind dissident works painstakingly copied on typewriters to counter censorship and shared among friends in the 1970s Soviet Union. We think of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago or texts in defense of human rights that could only circulate underground or be published in the West. Only rarely do we imagine communities of nonconformists editing an underground rock magazine, a feminist Christian journal, or a thematic collection entitled UFO. Yet, as Ann Komaromi shows in her study Soviet Samizdat, dissident publics in the Soviet Union created, read, copied, and edited a broad range of periodicals covering a wide array of subcultures and religious and ethnic groups. Starting from the 1960s, Soviet samizdat texts were mostly known to the Western public and researchers through the collections edited by Radio Liberty. As valuable as they were, these collections were often ideologically slanted and conveyed to the West the expected image of political activism and religious resistance, leaving aside less political manifestations of nonconformist views.

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Samizdat, Soviet Society, USSR, Media, Dissidents

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