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)

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