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“Comrades, Start Your Engines!”: Mobility, Legitimacy, and Roads to Socialism in the Soviet Interwar Period

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This article discusses how the early Soviet government domesticated what is arguably the twentieth century’s most hegemonic technology, the automobile. It uses official reports, popular literature, and cartoons to investigate the complex, changing and contradictory relationship between mobility and authority during the late 1920s and early 1930s. It reveals that automobile and motorcycle rallies, many of which were sponsored by the Avtodor Society, served to project official power into the countryside. It opens a discussion of the long term implications, especially in rural areas, of early Soviet transportation policies and practices. Ultimately, the article argues that using mobility as a category of historical analysis adds a new and vital dimension to our understanding of Russian history.

Affiliations: 1: Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI, USA,


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