The West has a nostalgia problem. The past is alternately romanticized and rejected. Young people embrace it, ironically or not, through cyclical trends; 2020 saw 1980s-style synth-driven hits, a disco renaissance, and the continued popularity of referential indie-rock.1 At the same time, young people also feel alienated from the experiences of older generations. For historians, this framework presents a fundamental problem, as it allows our relationship to the past to exist only at two highly artificial extremes. Furthermore, if these same Westerners are unable to consider their own past with the requisite nuance, their perception of other societies is even more superficial. This problem is particularly acute in relation to the former Soviet Union, which already carries immense political baggage in the popular imagination.

Young Westerners, afforded unprecedented access to international music by...

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