Travel And Tourism In Stalin’s Russia

4085 words - 17 pages

The nature of travel and tourism in Stalin’s Russia presents modern historians with a unique and utterly ambiguous concept. Travel and tourism under the Soviet emerged as a strictly regimented pursuit, which in line with the rest of Stalin’s Russia, came under heavy scrutiny and strict control, though it was strongly encouraged from the 1920s onwards and became officially regarded as a type of sport in 1949. The seemingly simple practices of leisure and travel under the Stalinist model presents readers with a paradox; as a system based on the labor theory of value, the USSR emphasized production as the foundation of wealth, personal worth, and the path to a society of abundance for all. ...view middle of the document...

The research will attempt to explain how Stalin’s regime exerted a strong control not only on the discrepancies associated with travel that emerged as a part of official projects in Russia and the Soviet, but also through the process of manipulation and indoctrination of its population, this having been said, tourists in the Soviet were encapsulated within a ‘tourist cage’ and it is this very notion that defined the nature and ventures of the soviet tourist. This policy was accompanied with a xenophobic attitude towards similar practices in the West that encouraged individuality and possessed the stigma of a ‘passive, pleasure-seeking, degraded western tourist’. The role of the VOKS (All Union Society for Cultural Ties Abroad) will also be mentioned to demonstrate the methods employed by the state to justify its unfettered grip on its travellers and tourists.

The paper will provide evidence, for example, of ethnographic exhibits that provided ‘virtual tourism’ for the Soviet population and the types of travel and tourism that became popular during the Stalin years such as holidays at the dacha and the typically Soviet vacation will also be examined in this study. First of all, it would be sensible to examine the nature of the Soviet tourist to be able to appreciate the circumstances surrounding the tourist cage theory that this paper posits and to understand that the meaning of travel and tourism may indeed be very different in the Soviet context compared to our modern Western interpretations.
The discrepancies associated with the manipulation that occurred in relation to Soviet travel and tourism can be stemmed from the very nature and etymology of the Russian word ‘turizm’, that oddly implies both a specific and very generalised meaning. Whilst tourism in the West can be viewed in terms of pleasure seeking and perhaps as an individual excursion , the distinction made from this view held by the Society for Proletarian Tourism that emerged in the 1920s, bears great impact on the ways in which travel and tourism and more importantly tourists were directed in the Soviet. In this scenario the turist was ‘ a traveller who embarked on a purposeful journey, a circuit using the traveller’s own physical powers, by foot, boat, bicycle or horseback’. Turizm therefore embodied work and the cohesive practices were aimed at aiding ‘the enhancement of one’s intellectual and physical capital [but] not leisure’. On the other hand, travellers who sought pleasure were encouraged to take part in excursions focusing on the involvement of work as opposed to idle behaviour or rest ‘otdykh’.
Travel in terms of taking a vacation, which could be considered as a citizen being displaced from his or her place of dwelling and work where the citizen would remain was labelled as travelling in order to rest. On the other hand where a person would travel for the purpose of sight seeing within a specified itinerary i.e. travel in order to ‘see or do’ was labelled...

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