“The Soviet Union is Inside Me”: Post-Soviet Youth in Transition

Olga Bostan, Ilya Malafei

Abstract


The USSR ceased to exist 28 years ago, and there are generations of young people who were born after the dissolution. Mobility opportunities are now abundant and easily available to them. Yet the Soviet past still shapes the post-Soviet present for citizens of countries of the former USSR. We interviewed eight young people from Belarus and Moldova who currently reside in the Netherlands and utilised grounded theory methodology to understand how they make sense of the Soviet past of their countries and how it influences them. While the post-Soviet young adults possess an internalised experience of reminiscences of Soviet times and have inherited certain patterns of thinking, communicating, and behaving, they are detached from Sovietness and express neither love nor hatred towards it. They locate themselves in a symbolic middle position in which they are critical both towards the Soviet legacy and ‘the Western’ alternatives, and the very transitional character of their position becomes the essence of it. The findings contribute to the body of scholarship on young adults’ experiences in post-Soviet countries, and the evaluation and understanding of the Soviet experience. Furthermore, they assist in understanding current events as well as the trends and the mobility trajectories of post-Soviet young adults.

Keywords


Post-Soviet; mobility; young adults; transition; Moldova; Belarus

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15273/jue.v9i2.9380

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The JUE is a peer-reviewed online journal that publishes original ethnographic research by undergraduates working in a variety of disciplines. Submissions are welcomed. Contact the Editor, Martha Radice.

ISSN 2369-8721