Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Laughing at “the Enemies of the People:” Narratives of Denunciation in Krokodil (1928-1929)

Fri31  Mar04:55pm(15 mins)
Turnbull Room


Alina Amvrosova1
1 Boston University, United States


Between 1928 and 1929, Stalin and the bureaucratic apparatus he dominated started to lay the groundwork for Soviet citizens to accept mass repression as a necessity for cleansing socialist society from the “enemies of the people”. Humor, elaborated through the prominent satirical journal Krokodil, was a perfect tool for the promotion of these ideas and practices. Searching for “social parasites”, the journal should have helped citizens of the USSR to understand whom to denounce, and why denunciations were a necessary feature of Soviet civic consciousness and identity. Krokodil revealed the textual and visual narratives of denunciations, shifting responsibility from the party to the Soviet citizens. 

The narratives in Krokodil transformed the concept of “enemies” from opponents who were recognizable and easy to detect in 1928 to “pests” who could literally hide themselves among everyone in 1929. Perhaps, these titles used in Krokodil as synonyms.

I conclude that the satire in Krokodil aligned with political shifts in the USSR during the late 1920s – late 1930s. Laughter redeemed the power and influence of such “enemies of the people” in the eyes of the citizens, as many authors in historiography mentioned (C. Davies, N. Skradol, S. Oushakine, etc.), though they did not examine the materials of the journal.