The network explores the supposed paradox of the group collective experience of repression and everyday individual Soviet 'normalization' through the example of Russian Germans and Soviet Jews. The focus is particularly on the peripheries of the late Soviet Union. Secondly, the effects of these experiences are investigated, both on those who emigrated after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and even on those who stayed.
Diaspora nationalities such as the Russian Germans and the Soviet Jews functioned as collectives through the common experience of repression and discrimination. At the same time, however, members of these populations experienced, as individuals, a normalization of their existence and, in many cases, a remarkable social advancement in the years following Stalin's death. They were, or became, a part of the culturally and ethnically diverse Soviet society.
We examine individual everyday practices, migration processes, memories of the late Soviet period, and the reconstitution of community after migration. Focusing on Soviet normalization during the period of late socialism, we pursue three goals: Firstly, to broaden the understanding of the diverse histories of diaspora nationalities on the Soviet peripheries as central components of Soviet history. This will bring into focus the biographies of those Soviet citizens who have been largely neglected in previous research. Secondly, the project makes an important contribution to the current debate on the peripheries and rural areas in the late Soviet Union. Research in recent years has developed its theses almost exclusively on the basis of urban contexts. Therefore, the network asks about the transferability of concepts such as "Soviet consumption" to the Soviet village and thus follows on from research on the late Soviet village – which is mostly focused on the European regions of the Soviet Union – but expands it with regard to the peripheries of the Soviet Empire. Thirdly, the projects point beyond the Soviet period to the present day: Using the case studies of emigrants in Lower Saxony, we also take into account community processes that have occurred after emigration, as well as memories of Soviet everyday life. Our research thus explores a new perspective on the history of the post-Stalinist Soviet Union, everyday life on its periphery, and the afterlife of the "Homo Sovieticus" in post-Soviet times.