Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

The Soviet Red Cross

Sat1  Apr02:00pm(90 mins)
James Watt South Room 355


Joanne Laycock4; Hanna Matt2; Siobhan Hearne2; Severyan Dyakonov3; Peter Whitewood1
1 York St John University, UK;  2 The University of Manchester, UK;  3 The Graduate Institute Geneva, Switzerland;  4 University of Manchester, UK


The Union of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of the USSR was a crucially important mass organisation throughout Soviet history. The Soviet Red Cross assumed primary responsibility for delivering medical aid in periods of domestic humanitarian crisis and worked with various state ministries to shape healthcare policy. The organisation also played an important role in the emergence of the USSR as a major player in global health politics following the death of Stalin, as it forged connections with other Red Cross societies in the decolonising world and Eastern bloc. Despite this, the Soviet Red Cross remains chronically understudied in scholarship on Soviet politics, culture, and society, as well as in historiographies of international humanitarianism due to the enduring influence of Cold War-era narratives that framed humanitarianism as a liberal western phenomenon. This roundtable brings together historians who study the Soviet Red Cross in order to discuss the importance of the organisation for exploring various aspects of the social, cultural, and political history of the Soviet Union, and for bringing the Soviet example into global histories of humanitarianism. The participants examine the history of the Soviet Red Cross across a variety of different geographical and chronological contexts, including revolutionary Russia and early Soviet Central Asia, as well as at the All-Union and supranational level in the late 20th century.