Casualties of Cold War: Toward a Feminist Analysis of American Nationalism in U.S.-Russian Relations

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2008-07-24

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Using a feminist transdisciplinary research approach, this dissertation interrogates the discursive configurations that constituted the framework of meaning within which the United States conducted its relationship with the Russian Federation between 1991 and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. It calls attention to the production and operation of what I refer to as "gendered Russian imaginaries" (i.e., the range of masculinities and femininities that have been assigned to narrative and visual depictions of Russia and Russians in American political and popular culture) that have been invoked as part of American cold war triumphalism to craft and support U.S. foreign policy.

The dissertation has two parts. While much has been written about the consequences of U.S. Russia policy, I explore its ideological causes in Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4. Chapter 1 enumerates the foundational precepts upon which my project relies, while Chapter 2 offers some necessary background information concerning the evolution and deployment of gendered nationalisms in the Russian Federation and in the United States. Chapters 3 and 4 examine the metaphors and analogies deployed throughout the congressional hearings that led to two pieces of U.S. legislation, the Freedom Support Act of 1992 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

Through visual, narrative, and discursive analyses of several popular culture texts, including 1997's animated feature film Anastasia (Chapter 5), NBC's hit television series The West Wing (Chapter 6), and Washington, D.C.'s popular International Spy Museum (Chapter 7), part two explores the ways in which Russia and Russians were visually and narratively depicted in U.S. popular culture at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Given the Russian Federation's status as the world's second-largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, the importance of Russia to contemporary U.S.-Middle East politics can no longer be in any doubt. Consequently, the mistakes, assumptions, and triumphalist arrogance of the United States since 1991 must be reckoned with and accounted for. This dissertation contributes a feminist analysis to that endeavor by drawing attention to the links between cultural and national identities, the gendered politics of knowledge production, and the circulation of power in transnational contexts.

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