A Genealogy of (post-)Soviet Dependency: Disabling Productivity


  • Cassandra Hartblay University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill




dependency, disability, citizenship, russia, productivity


Nancy Fraser and Linda Gordon's 1994 article “A Genealogy of Dependency: Tracing a Keyword of the US Welfare State” explored the historical emergence of "dependency" as a moral category of post-industrial American state. In this article, I engage their framework to explore the genealogy of dependency in America's post-industrial sister, the post-Soviet Russian Federation. I also add disability as a core element of 'dependency' that was largely absent from Fraser and Gordon's original analysis. Considering cross-cultural translation, I ask how Russian deployments of three words that all relate to a concept of interdependence align with and depart from American notions of dependency, and trace historical configurations of the Soviet welfare state vis-a-vis disability. To do so, I draw on historical and cultural texts, linguistic comparisons, secondary sources, and ethnographic research. Given this analysis, I argue that rather than a Cold War interpretation of the Soviet Union and the US as oppositional superpowers in the 20th century, a liberatory disability studies framework suggests that in the postindustrial era the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as dual regimes of productivity. I suggest that reframing postsocialism as a global condition helps us to shift considerations of disability justice from a critique of capitalism to a critique of productivity. 


Keywords: dependency, disability, citizenship, russia, productivity




How to Cite

Hartblay, C. (2014). A Genealogy of (post-)Soviet Dependency: Disabling Productivity. Disability Studies Quarterly, 34(1). https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v34i1.4015



Special Section: Irving K. Zola Award Winner for Emerging Scholar in Disability Studies, 2014