Tue, Nov 14|
Elena Grossfeld, "It’s no laughing matter. Soviet jokes as a basis for intelligence analysis in the Cold War & beyond."
Hear from Elena Grossfeld over Zoom speak about Soviet jokes, their value for intelligence analysis and the parallels with contemporary Russia
Time & Location
Nov 14, 2023, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST
About this session
Throughout the existence of the Soviet Union, neither the purges nor the trials and multi-year prison sentences could arrest the clandestine creativity of citizens in authoring political jokes or diminish its reach. Political jokes were used in an attempt to reconcile lived experiences with the propaganda narrative and as a bonding mechanism in a society built on denying reality in favor of performative norms. Soviet political jokes were a popular public outlet in a totalitarian regime with absolute censorship and extensive propaganda, where the state manufactured statistics and election results were known years in advance. During the Cold War, the CIA collected and used jokes to gauge Soviet citizens' public sentiment and dissatisfaction. Still, it is unclear whether Western intelligence, struggling to produce estimates of Soviet military and economic capacities, used jokes to augment the analysis. Yet, given the challenges the Western intelligence organizations faced in their intelligence collection efforts in the Soviet Union, the jokes offered detailed information ready to be used for in-depth analysis of economy, military preparedness, and state security reach. I argue that jokes reflected the actual condition of the industrial, military, security, and societal capabilities and were a valuable instrument for intelligence analysis beyond simplistic attitudes’ gauge, as the information they contained exposed reliable facts that the authorities labored to hide. As the Russian Federation institutes blanket censorship, banning independent media and journalists and persecuting citizens for their social media posts, a new generation of political jokes is created, presenting an opportunity for intelligence analysis of unbiased and revealing data.
Elena Grossfeld is a PhD candidate in the Department of War Studies, King's College London (KCL), and a member of King's Centre for the Study of Intelligence (KCSI). Her research interests are strategic culture of Russian/Soviet intelligence, Cold War, cybersecurity, space, and information warfare. Elena holds an MA in Intelligence and International Security from KCL, an MA in Linguistics from San Jose State University, and a BS in Mathematics with a minor in Russian Studies from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Having started her career as a software engineer and architect, she specialized in reliability and performance of systems powering the Internet and e-commerce before moving into cybersecurity, focusing on the areas of insider threat, cyber threat intelligence, and cryptocurrencies-related fraud investigations.
@kloosha (Twitter/X), https://www.linkedin.com/in/lenagrossfeld/
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- Ticket type
Do NOT use this ticket if you are a registered NASIH member. Log into your account through this website. Once logged in, return to this event page and order a "member ticket". At that time, your 100% discount will apply and your purchase will be $0.Price$5.00