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The Soviet-Afghan War’s Unwomanly Face: The Representation of Women in Svetlana Alexievich’s “Zinky Boys”
October 6, 2016 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
In keeping with her journalistic style of conveying the views of others, the voice of 2015 Nobel Prize winning author Svetlana Alexievich is limited in the oral history she published in 1990 under the Belorussian title Цинковые Мајіьчики or Zinky Boys in English. The title refers to the “boys” who came home from the war in zinc coffins, but for the book she interviewed soldiers, women who served as nurses, civilian employees, and, most poignantly, the mothers and wives of slain soldiers. This talk explores a key underlying tension of her narrative: whereas many saw themselves fighting in the shadow of the heroic memory of World War II for the sake of the “Motherland” (Rodina), most of the mothers themselves whose words are sprinkled throughout the text and who symbolically, collectively represent the Motherland do not understand nor accept the cause for which their sons fought and died.
Jeffrey W. Jones is an associate professor of Russian-Soviet history at UNC-Greensboro. He is the author “Everyday Life and the ‘Reconstruction’ of Soviet Russia During and After the Great Patriotic War, 1943-1948 (2008)”. He is currently working on a book entitled “Smoke, Mirrors and Memories: Varying Perspectives of the Soviet-Afghan War, 1979-2015.”
This talk is co-presented by the Department of History as part of its 2016-17 Gender, War, and Culture Series.