An unlikely bulwark of Sovietness: cross-border travel and Soviet patriotism in Western Ukraine, 1956–1985

Zbigniew Wojnowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Focusing on the development of travel between the borderlands of Ukraine and Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe, this article explores what it meant to be Soviet outside the Russian core of the USSR between the mid-1950s and the mid-1980s. The cautious opening of the Soviet border was part of a larger attempt to find fresh sources of popular support and enthusiasm for the regime's “communist” project. Before the Prague Spring of 1968 in particular, official policies and narratives of travel thus praised local inhabitants who crossed the Soviet border for supposedly overcoming age-old hatreds to build a brighter future in Eastern Europe. By the 1970s, however, smuggling and cultural consumption discredited the idea of “internationalist friendship.” This encouraged residents of Ukraine to speak and write about the continuing importance of the Soviet border. The very idea of Sovietness was defined in national terms, as narratives of travel emphasized that Soviet citizens were inherently different from ethno-national groups in the people's democracies. Eastern Europe thus emerged as an “other” that highlighted the Soviet character of territories incorporated into the USSR after 1939, helping to obscure western Ukraine's troubled past and leading to the emergence of new social hierarchies in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-101
Number of pages20
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • regional identities in western Ukraine
  • Soviet patriotism
  • Sovietization of western Ukraine
  • Ukrainian history
  • Ukrainian-Polish relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • History

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