Soviet Union


'In the Shadow of Conventions:' Gender Equality in Islamic Society

 

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The scope of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, is much broader than politics and national security; social issues are also well represented. In the four reports excerpted below we proceed from general to particular. The first, which includes the cartoons here, is a diverse collection of articles from Arabic-language sources; the second a travel diary of a woman visiting oases in Egypt. The third and fourth items both concern the conflict of Muslim traditions in the former Soviet Union—the latter report specifically with regard to the nomadic culture of Kazakhstan. Together they offer valuable insights into the role of women in Muslim countries, both in urban and rural settings.

The first report, Near East/North Africa Report, No. 2620, Status of women in Persian Gulf countries (JPRS-81769, 09/15/1982. 90 pages) touches upon such contemporary topics as age discrimination, suffrage, driving, marriage and divorce, employment, education, dress, and East/West cultural differences.

'In the Shadow of Conventions:' Gender Equality in Islamic Society

New and Improved: Personal and Political Reform in Socialist States

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-L0822-0026,_XX__Olympiade,_DDR-Turnerinnen,_Training Caption Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L0822-0026. Gahlbeck, Friedrich. CC-BY-SA 3.0.jpgEast and West, self-improvement is a human project in which the state has a vested interest. In the West, the idea of a liberal education resulting in conscientious, informed citizens has been the goal. In socialist states, the tendency has been to link the personal with the political taken collectively rather than individually.

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we offer a selection of best practices drawn from countries in which the U.S. government had a healthy interest.


Residues of the Islamic Religion and Methods for Eliminating them

Voprosy Filosofii (Problems in Philosophy) No. 5, May 1961

The United States is just the latest nation where Islam has become a political issue. Communism has always had an argument with organized religion as leading to “false consciousness” and inhibiting adherence to proletarian goals and identity.

This report relates the proceedings of a conference in Dagestan wherein the rationale and methodology is laid-out for eliminating the Islamic religion from the Soviet population. And they don’t mince words:

New and Improved: Personal and Political Reform in Socialist States

A Day at the (Space) Races: Gherman Titov and Vostok-2 Raise the Stakes of Manned Space Flight

“Socialism is the launching platform from which the Soviet Union shoots off its cosmic ships.” —Nikita S. Khrushchev

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On 6 August 1961, less than four years after Sputnik and not quite four months after Yuri Gagarin's historic orbital flight, Gherman Titov accomplished a flight of over seventeen orbits, lasting more than a day. This achievement had the desired effect of serving notice to the United States that Soviet space exploration was neither a fluke nor a stunt, but a sustained program to demonstrate the technical superiority—and by extension, the socio-political potency—of socialism over capitalism. In these documents from the current release of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we offer direct quotations from Titov himself, scientists, a journalist, even a farmer witnessing Titov's landing.

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Preparation for Man's Flight into Cosmic Space

Vestnik Akademii Nauk, SSSR (Herald of the Academy of Sciences, USSR), No. 6, 1961. 16 p.

A Day at the (Space) Races: Gherman Titov and Vostok-2 Raise the Stakes of Manned Space Flight

The U.S. Presidential Election of 1980: International Perspectives from Open-Source Intelligence Reports

Ronald Reagan campaigning with Nancy Reagan in Columbia, South Carolina. 10/10/80.Every U.S. presidential election attracts worldwide interest, and Reports from the Foreign Broadcast Information Service—available from Readex in a unique digital edition—provide English-language analysis of them from all sides of the political and geographical world.

These open-source intelligence reports can be used to understand how different nations viewed the outcome of the 1980 contest between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Some of their conclusions are somewhat surprising, especially in light of what actually happened during the eight years Reagan was president.  


The first excerpt below was broadcast in Persian from the Tehran Domestic Service on November 6, 1980. The transcript states at the beginning that this is “Unattributed political commentary.” Its headline is “Carter, Reagan Called Identical.” Some of the language in the opening paragraphs could have seemingly come from an Eastern European or Soviet source. 

The U.S. Presidential Election of 1980: International Perspectives from Open-Source Intelligence Reports

The Body Politic: Public Health and Quality of Life in the Eastern Bloc

In such diverse forums as National Geographic, The Aspen Institute, and the TED-talk series, there has been an active discussion of “blue zones,” initially proposed as five distinct geographic locales where the populace demonstrates greater longevity and a higher quality of life than the norm. The concept was popularized by the author Dan Buettner, and includes areas such as Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Loma Linda, California. Conspicuously absent from the list, however, is any location in the former Eastern Bloc.  

In this month's highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we're delving into some of the statistical and qualitative material which might contribute to an understanding of the absence of “red” countries from “blue” zones.  


Comparative Studies on the Frequency of Suicides in the Two German States

Das Deutsche Gesundheitswesen (The German Health Service), Vol. XVI. No. 19, May 1961 

The Body Politic: Public Health and Quality of Life in the Eastern Bloc

The Broad Sweep of Imperialism: As Seen in Open-Source Intelligence Reports from the U.S. Government

Of those Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports that are not strictly technical in nature, it would be fair to say that imperialism is at least an implicit theme throughout.

This month's highlights include scientists seeking to ease tensions between nuclear states, a Swedish view of the Cold War, a caustic Soviet evaluation of Harvard's Russian Research Center, and three reports describing the challenges facing African nations breaking free from colonial relationships. 


The Pugwash Meetings of Scientists—A Soviet View

Vestnik Akademii Nauk, SSSR (Herald of the Academy of Sciences, USSR) Vol. XXXI No. 11, 1961

The Cold War enjoys a September sojourn in Stowe, Vermont, in this report. Nikita Khrushchev sends greetings from home in the form of a two-page letter justifying the resumption of nuclear tests. The title characterizes Pugwash as “meetings,” but today we recognize Pugwash as a movement kicked-off by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, still vital after 60 years. (10 pages) 


The Cold War

Ny Militar Tidshrift (New Military Journal) Vol. 34 No. 6, 1961 

The Broad Sweep of Imperialism: As Seen in Open-Source Intelligence Reports from the U.S. Government

Cold War Tourism: The Sights (and Sites) of Soviet History

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’re taking a break from overheated rhetoric on both sides of the Iron Curtain to draw attention to the extraordinary attractions of the former Soviet Union. If, as Tip O’Neill maintained, “all politics is local,” then surely some travel is beneficial for discovering the soul of Russia beyond the slogans and soundbites.   


Guidebook to Moscow Clubs and Houses of Culture (1961) 

Behold, a comprehensive reference to such diverse institutions as the Central House of the Architect, the Club of the Moscow Liquor-Brandy Distillery, the Club of the Low Gas Consumption Automobile Factory, and hundreds of other social and industrial societies circa 1961. This guide comes complete with addresses, telephone numbers, transit connections, and summary paragraphs of the attractions. For an adventurous traveller, it would provide an unorthodox and fascinating means of exploring Moscow off the beaten track and from a unique historical perspective. (163 pages) 


Instructions for Patients at Health Resorts in the Ukraine (1962) 

Cold War Tourism: The Sights (and Sites) of Soviet History

Suburbia and Surveillance: Political and Social Development in the Soviet Union and North Korea

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we consider suburban development in the Soviet Union, the means by which that development is accomplished, and what happens to those who fail to sustain that development, or seek to escape from it.  


Satellite Towns

State Publishing House of Geographical Literature, Moscow, 1961 

A few years after Nixon and Khrushchev’s 1959 “Kitchen Debate,” which took place in a model single-family American house created in Moscow for a cultural exhibition, the Soviet people experienced their own version of the American post-war suburban movement. In the Soviet case, however, the wholesale resettlement of millions of people was proposed. This was admitted to be an “acute and extremely complex” problem. And in place of the prototypical tract-home development common in America at the time, the Soviets envisioned higher densities in four-to-five-story residential complexes. 

This report considers suburban development throughout the Soviet Union and provides a fascinating look into aspects of central planning that touched the daily lives of many Soviet citizens. 

Suburbia and Surveillance: Political and Social Development in the Soviet Union and North Korea

Beyond the Climate of Fear: Environmental Research in the Soviet Union during the 1960s

Although the United States competed with the Soviet Union politically, economically and technologically, our countries shared many of the same concerns regarding the environment. During the era when Rachel Carson was publishing Silent Spring in the West, in the East the Soviets were also looking into the dangers of organic compounds. They discussed climate change seriously, studied the effects of radioactive fallout from nuclear tests, and explored the mysteries of the northern lights. 

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’ll take a break from politics to consider some of the more fundamental aspects of life.  


On the Problem of the Mechanism of the Selectivity of Toxicity of Organophosphorus Insecticides

Gigiyena Truda i Professional'nyye Zabolevaniya (Labor Hygiene and Occupational Diseases) — May 1963

We’re familiar with the organic compound DDT through its historical use as an insecticide and its toxic effects on wildlife. This report considers how the chemicals’ effects on insects differ from their effects on warm-blooded animals.  


The Artificial Control of the Climate of Large and Small Areas

Izvestiya Akademii Nauk SSSR, Seriya Geograficheskaya (Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Geography Series) — 1963

Understanding the biochemistry of an insecticide is important. On the macro end of the scale, it’s also important to know the impact of our actions on the global climate. No politics intrudes on the science in this report.


Translations from Radioactive Contamination of the Environment [1962]

Beyond the Climate of Fear: Environmental Research in the Soviet Union during the 1960s

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

From 1941 to 1996 the U.S. government published the Daily Report of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). FBIS was begun in 1941 as a means of letting the government know what propaganda was being broadcast into the U.S. by the shortwave radio services of the foreign governments involved in the European war.

Broadcasts deemed of potential interest to U.S. government officials were selected for translation into English. Political, economic and war news dominated the first years of FBIS. Broadcasts were either transcribed in their entirety, in part, or were briefly summarized. Every day a Daily Report was published and delivered. After World War II the number of FBIS sources grew, and the size of the Daily Report ballooned. In the early 1970s FBIS Daily Reports began to be delivered in Regional Reports whose names changed over time. Sources now included newspapers and television news shows as well as radio broadcasts.

Graham E. Fuller, a former C.I.A. official, wrote about FBIS Reports in a Consortium News piece entitled, “Value in Reading Others’ Propaganda,” which was published online on September 29, 2015. In this piece Fuller writes:

Indeed there was an entire branch of CIA which monitored and published on a daily basis a thick booklet of selected broadcast items from around the world—available by subscription. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service provided an invaluable service. It is now sadly defunct, the victim of short-sighted budget cutting—an operation which probably cost less annually than one fighter aircraft and offered much more.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

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