Cynthia A. Ruder
The Moscow Canal and the Creation of Soviet Space
I. B. Tauris 2018
In Building Stalinism: The Moscow Canal and the Creation of Soviet Space (I. B. Tauris, 2018), Cynthia Ruder explores how the building of the Moscow canal reflected the values of Stalinism and how it was used to create distinctly Soviet space, both real and imagined. She discusses the canal as a physical construct: an massive and important infrastructure project that would allow Moscow to have a steady supply of drinking water and create enough water pressure to allow for the construction of high rises, as well as a shipping channel that connected Moscow to the Volga and the Russian heartland and the rest of the world via the Baltic, White and Caspian seas, as well as the imagined spaces created, such as Moscow becoming “a port of five seas.” Ruder examines the Stalinist political system’s ability to tame and control water, bending it in service of socialism, and how these achievements were memorialized in art, song and literature. But she also explores the darker side of canal construction, the use of Gulag labor, the human cost it exacted and how this too was reflective of a Stalinist world-view. Building Stalinism provides an excellent look into the pervasive nature of Stalinism and its complex modern legacy.
Samantha Lomb is an Assistant Professor at Vyatka State University in Kirov, Russia. Her research focuses on daily life, local politics and political participation in the Stalinist 1930s. Her book, Stalin’s Constitution: Soviet Participatory Politics and the Discussion of the Draft 1936 Constitution, is now available online. Her research can be viewed here.