15 January 2009

Бытовой расизм: BBC Radio 4 Presents 'Black Students in Red Russia'

Radio 4 just aired a thirty-minute program on African students in the Soviet Union, featuring interviews with former students, instructors and contemporary scholars of African history. It's quite good at getting to the nitty-gritty of everyday life (т.е. бытовой расизм) and avoiding the level of abstraction common to such discussions of race and the Cold War.

Click here to listen. It will only be available online until 20 January.

And if you get a chance, I'd be curious to know what you think of the program. I'm a little too close to the material (and some of the interviewees) to comment more.


nadia said...

Well it was really interesting, but I'm not informed enough on this subject to tell if I should be getting more out of it than that. It seemed pretty balanced though, am I missing something?

Buster said...

Yeah, N, I don't know. I guess I actually found it misleadingly even-handed and also that the program erased some of the political motivations that students had for travel/study in the USSR. I was also struck by the lack of comparison with the experiences of African students in the UK, France, Germany, the United States, and so on, along with a lack of attempt to EXPLAIN the Russian experience, instead of just recount it.

But, like I said, I'm a little over-invested in this story and I was curious about what the general listener made of it. Thanks for giving it a listen and writing in with your feedback.

nadia said...

Oh yeah that's so true. Generally the impression I get is that the middle/working classes that went through the schools and military academies under the colonial systems grew up to be nationalists as well, both "liberal" and "radical". But when I think about these subjects my knowledge is heavily weighted towards one particular corner of the world where there were competing anti-imperial ideologies. ...I guess that's a little different from elites that would go to school in the UK/US/wherever, but quite a lot of reformers and radical thinkers were educated in Paris as well, so I don't know, I guess I just see anti-imperialism as an eventuality and the Russian option as an expression of one kind of sectariana, but again my opinion is disproportionately informed by middle eastern history which probably really isn't the best example.

But understandable, I get the same about subjects I know way too much about, but it's usually directed at articles that are lazily written.

As a more general point/rant which I've been reminded of alot in the past month, whenever people brag about not taking sides my bullshit detector goes off and it almost always turns out that they don't have half their facts straight. I really should know better.