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Stardust on Our Boots: Music in the lives of Soviet Soldiers of the Soviet-Afghan War

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Music both created and consumed by Soviet soldiers during the war in Afghanistan provides an insight into their opinions and criticisms of the war. Music allowed soldiers to vent, to give voice to their experiences, as well as to rationalize

Music both created and consumed by Soviet soldiers during the war in Afghanistan provides an insight into their opinions and criticisms of the war. Music allowed soldiers to vent, to give voice to their experiences, as well as to rationalize their participation in the conflict, enabling them to inject their personal opinions and perceptions of the war into memorable and poetic forms. Through analyzing the Soviet songs about the of Afghan war, we can create a chronological timeline charting the development of resentment and disillusionment among Soviet soldiers: the initial patriotic songs borrowed from prior conflicts soon declined in popularity, replaced with mournful songs reflecting soldiers’ nostalgia for home and fear of death in their daily lives. Their lyrics reveal feelings of anxiety, disenfranchisement and abandonment, all resulting from the Soviet state’s ineffective handling of the war. In addition to songs produced by soldiers themselves, bands within Soviet borders such as Kino also wrote songs about the conflict, using their star power to draw attention to the conflict in their own fashion. By tracking both the creation and spread of these songs about the Soviet-Afghan war (referred to in this essay as either the “Soviet-Afghan War” or, more simply, the “Afghan War” as it is known in Russian), we can find vital, overlooked expressions of if not protest then discontent - among the many bubbling to the surface during the last decade of the USSR. This thesis therefore presents a chronological analysis of representative songs from the Soviet-Afghan war that also takes their popularity and methods of propagation -- the material technologies that allowed for this music to be spread -- into account, plotted alongside the major turning points of the war. It uncovers an otherwise forgotten form of discourse between soldiers about both the war itself, as well as the Soviet government, exploring the political implications of the war’s musical memorialization.

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2020-05

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Reading and Writing Military Science Fiction

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Discusses the reading experience and writing strategies in relation to four prominent novels from the genre

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2013-05