Cover Osteuropa 4-5/2008

In Osteuropa 4-5/2008

The Geologists: Colonists around the Camp Fire
Self-Image and the Understanding of Nature in the Soviet Union

Alla Bolotova

Deutsche Fassung


Soviet society's relationship to nature crystallised in the image of the geologist. In the early years of the Soviet Union, the geologist was considered a hero who made man master over nature. But there was little in the way of revolutionary romanticism when, under Stalin, mostly prisoners were sent on expeditions to the taiga and tundra. In the late Soviet era, classical concepts of nature involving beauty and freedom played a large role. Geologists played a key role in Soviet industrialisation policy and were at the same time the germ cell of a dissident consciousness. This ambivalent legacy lives on in post-Soviet utilitarianism as well as the new Russian ecological movement.

(Osteuropa 4-5/2008, pp. 57–68)