Associated event: January 7, Christina Baxter, Mississippi State University, “Kukurzshchik’s Debacle: Khrushchev’s Push for Corn as a Means of Sovereignty”


Dear Colleagues,

we kindly invite you to an event associated with

the Helsinki Environmental Humanities Forum

(Monday) January 7, 2019, at 14.15- 15.45

In Aleksandria (Fabianinkatu 28)

Group study Room 329


Doctoral Candidate Christina Baxter from Department of History, Mississippi State University, USA

will present and discuss her PhD project:

“Kukurzshchik’s Debacle: Khrushchev’s Push for Corn as a Means of Sovereignty”

“We will fire the most powerful torpedo against the foundations of capitalism.” This was

Khrushchev’s hope and promise for the Soviet Union. Through the increased production of

foodstuffs, he believed that not only would the Soviet Union become self-sufficient but that it

could outproduce the West at a rate that could cause the collapse of capitalism. Paramount to

Khrushchev’s plan was grain production with corn as the epitome as the singular means of

survival. The Soviet leader became so enthralled with the North American grain that he gained

the nickname “Kukurzshchik.” The colossal project ended up becoming a complete failure for

both the Soviet leader and the Soviet Union. The failure was expansive enough to reverse

Khrushchev’s dreams by turning the Soviet Union from exporter to importer for grains.

By combining cultural and environmental history approaches to the topic, this project

seeks to answer the following questions: How does the Soviet behemoth take a foreign food

staple and make it “Soviet?” What were the impacts of the Soviet experiment with corn? How

does a “Soviet grain” turn into a a symbol for destruction? The project utilizes popular cartoons,

Khrushchev’s memoirs, as well as government documents to understand the rise and fall of the

Soviet project with corn. After analyzing the materials, this project finds that the Soviet regime

pushed for the Sovietization of the North American grain as a means to define sovereignty and

this image only changes to become synonymous once the monstrous failure becomes known to

the larger public. Ultimately, the failure of Khrushchev’s push for corn caused the populous to

never regain its faith nor belief in the Soviet colossus.

KINDLY NOTE: The talk and subsequent discussion are going to BROADCAST LIVE via Twitter @helsinkienvhum)

Your Christmas Present from @helsinkienvhum: Environmental Humanities Video Archive

Dear Colleagues, Dear Friends,

Helsinki Environmental Humanities Forum would like to wish you Happy Holidays with our new Environmental Humanities Forum Video Archive that includes some of the most interesting talks by distinguished guests from North America and Europe on a variety of subjects ranging from recycling via indigenous peoples to Chernobyl.

The holiday season and long Nordic winter nights create a wonderful setting for watching our videos which present independent, stimulating and unique envhum research. 🙂

Video Library Link:

Wishing you Happy Holidays! Hyvää Joulua!

Helsinki Envhum Forum’s team:
Mikko Saikku, Viktor Pál, and Justin Begley, Dorotheé Cambou, Parker Krieg, Laura Siragusa, Stef Spronck, Inna Sukhenko.

December 11, 2018: HUH-EH Forum 10.: Double talks: Scott Slovic (U. Idaho) and Finn Arne Jørgensen (U. Stavanger)

December 11, 12.15-13.45
Kielikeskus (Language Center)
Fabianinkatu 26, Seminar Room 203

editor of ISLE journal, a renowned ecocritic from the University of Idaho.
“Toward an Empirical Environmental Humanities: What Counts as Data?”


December 11,2018.
Kielikeskus (Language Center),
Fabianinkatu 26, Seminar Room 403

PROFESSOR FINN ARNE JØRGENSEN, University of Stavanger and MIT PRESS author

The green aura that has surrounded the term “recycling” since the 1970s is fading away. Long hailed as an environmentally beneficial practice that both consumers and businesses could engage with, recycling has come under considerable pressure from a wide range of critics.

Few disagree that the general idea of recycling is good. What recycling aims to do is to close the loop, redirecting streams of matter into something circular that ideally never reaches the waste stage. The implication is that a society that is sufficiently efficient at recycling is a sustainable society. Yet, critics argue that recycling is far from a panacea – it is either insufficient, misleading, busywork, or a green illusion, depending on who you ask. The global consequences of recycling are becoming increasingly evident – especially in their uneven distribution.

This talk uses the emerging research field of Discard Studies as a way into this shifting idea of recycling. It will situate recycling as an activity and a process at the intersection of the material and the ideological, and in doing so, it will take us into complex territories, full of both contested symbols and unruly materiality, laden with cynicism and hope, anchored in economy and ecology.

Finn Arne Jørgensen is Professor of Environmental History at University of Stavanger, Norway. He directs the environmental humanities initiative The Greenhouse together with Dolly Jørgensen. He is the author of Making a Green Machine: The Infrastructure of Beverage Container Recycling (Rutgers University Press, 2011) and co-editor of New Natures: Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). This talk is based on Recycling: Essential Knowledge, which will be published with MIT Press in fall 2019.

November 13, 2018. HUH-EH Forum: Inna Sukhenko, University of Helsinki


Dear Colleagues,

we kindly invite you to the next Helsinki University Environmental Humanities Forum on
(Tuesday) November 13, 2018, at 14.00-16.00
at the Language Center (Fabianinkatu 26) Seminar Room 403

when Dr Inna Sukhenko, International Postdoctoral Fellow from the Helsinki University Humanities Programme
will give a talk on “Nuclear Criticism: Before and After Chernobyl”

Please kindly see Inna’s discussion paper and a related scholarly article attached to be discussed at the forum.

(KINDLY NOTE: The talk and subsequent discussion is going to be LIVE on Twitter @helsinkienvhum)


Inna Sukhenko is a postdoctoral researcher of Helsinki University Humanities Program, the University of Helsinki. She defended her doctoral dissertation at Dnipo National University (Ukraine). Her current research interests are focused on environmental humanities, energy humanities, ecocriticism, literary energy narratives, nuclear narrative studies. Her special interest lies with “Chernobyl narrative” within ecocritical studies and energy humanities. She contributed to the international projects on ecocriticism and environmental literature studies. She is a member of the Association for Literary Urban Studies (Finland), HELSUS (Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Sciences, Finland), the Finnish Society for Development Research (Finland), Chornobyl Ecological Information Center (Ukraine).

Please kindly follow the link below to learn more about Inna’s work:

Looking forward to seeing (meeting) you!
With kind wishes, Viktor Pál and Mikko Saikku

October 30, 2018 HUH-EH Forum: Professor Julia Lajus, HSE, Russia


Dear Colleagues,

we kindly invite you to the next Helsinki University Environmental Humanities Forum on

October 30, 2018, at 14.00-16.00

at the Language Center (Fabianinkatu 26) Seminar Room 403

when Professor Julia Lajus, from the Laboratory for Environmental and Technological History at the Higher School of Economics St Petersburg, Russia will present her recent research

“Natural resources in environmental and technological history of Russia”

Julia Lajus is an Associate Professor and Leading Researcher, Academic director of International Master Programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History “Usable Pasts”, Head of Laboratory for Environmental and Technological History of the Center for Historical Research, Department of History, National Research University Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg campus;

Please kindly follow the link below to learn more about Julia’s work:

Professor Lajus’ latest publications include:

Red herring’: The unpredictable Soviet fish and Soviet power in the 1930s. In: Competing Arctic Futures: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed. by

Nina Wormbs. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018 (Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology), pp. 73 – 94.

Experts on Unknown Waters: Environmental Risk, Fisheries Science and Local Knowledge in the Russian North. In: Eurasian Environments: Nature and Ecology in Imperial Russian and Soviet History, ed. by Nicholas Breyfogle (Russian and East European Studies), 2018.

Russian Environmental History: A Historiographical Review. In: The Great Convergence: Environmental Histories of BRICS, S. Ravi Rajan and Lise Sedrez (Eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 245 – 273.

Looking forward to seeing (meeting) you!

With kind wishes, Viktor Pál and Mikko Saikku