Rachel Platonov: Cold War Culture – Race to the Moon

Dr Rachel Platonov is a Senior Lecturer in Russian Studies at the University of Manchester. Her teaching and research interests include Soviet history, ‘mass culture’ and propaganda of the mid-20th century. She regularly contributes to educational, research and outreach projects for academic and non-academic audiences alike.

Talk: ‘A Sea of Peace or a New Terrifying Theatre of War’: Cold War Culture, Global Politics, and the Race to the Moon

In this wide-ranging talk two leading academics from the University of Manchester will discuss how the global Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s shaped culture, politics, and international diplomacy in both The United States and the Soviet Union, resulting in a dramatic competition to conquer space. Dr Tom Tunstall Allcock will explore the roots of the American space programme through to the famous moon landing, taking in Red Scare paranoia, popular culture, and presidential politics and diplomacy along the way. Dr Rachel Platonov will discuss the political and ideological underpinnings of the Soviet space programme, the use of Soviet ‘victories’ like Sputnik and Yury Gagarin in domestic and international propaganda, and attempts to downplay the ‘moon race’ following Apollo 11. Together they will highlight the central and unique role that the space race and the moon landing played in the Cold War for both the United States and the Soviet Union, a competition that offered, in the words of John F. Kennedy, the prospect of transforming space into either a ‘sea of peace’ or a ‘terrifying theatre of war.’

Dot Talks, Star Pavilion Saturday 2019

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