Karen Petrone

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  • Professor and Director of the Cooperative for the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • History
  • War & Gender Work Group
1715 Patterson Office Tower (enter through 1719)
Research Interests:

Ph.D., Michigan, 1994



Karen Petrone's primary research interests are cultural history, gender history, propaganda, war and memory, and the history of subjectivity and everyday life, especially in Russia and the Soviet Union.

Her book The Great War in Russian Memory (Indiana University Press, 2011) challenges the notion that World War I was a forgotten war in the Soviet Union.  She argues that although the war was not officially commemorated by the Soviet state, it was the subject of lively discouse about religion, heroism, violence and patriotism during the interwar period.  The book then traces how this discourse disappeared due to the growing militarization of the Soviet state in the 1930s.  This work broadens Petrone's expertise on the culture of the Soviet interwar period, a subject she first explored in her book on Stalinist celebrations in the 1930s, Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades: Celebrations in the Time of Stalin (Indiana University Press, 2000).

Both in the project on World War I memory and in a series of other on-going projects, Petrone explores issues of gender. She has co-edited a volume of essays in comparative history with Jie-Hyun Lim of Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, entitled Gender Politics in Mass Dictatorship: Global Perspectives (Palgrave, 2011).  She has engaged with several collaborations with Choi Chatterjee on the development of gender history in post-Soviet Russia, as well as on Soviet subjectivities. They are planning to work together next on a project on "Global 1991."    

Karen Petrone has co-written a textbook with Kenneth Slepyan  for Oxford University Press, using primary documents to narrate Soviet history from 1939-2000.She has co-edited a book on Everyday Life in Russia: Past and Present with Choi Chatterjee, Mollie Cavender, and David Ransel. 

Petrone has been working on a manuscript entitled Reading War Memory in Putin’s Russia, under contract with Indiana University Press. 

Reading War Memory in Putin’s Russia provides a detailed analysis of how depictions of war memory in the Russian Federation build contemporary Russian national identity and weave this identity into a mythologized and militarized Russian past. It is a close reading of Russian war memory since the year 2000, a primer on how to study war memory in any time or place, and a manifesto on why studying war memory is crucial to the understanding of history, politics, and society. While this work endeavors to illuminate methods and concepts that come from a wide variety of scholarly disciplines, the study of memory is inherently an examination of the relationship of the present to the past, and so historical methods will figure prominently in the analysis.  


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