Revolutionary Children; or, What Can a Failed Mozambican Ballerina Tell Us about International Socialism?

Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:50 AM
Virginia Suite A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Elizabeth Banks, New York University
After Eduardo Mondlane, the first president of Mozambique’s national liberation movement FRELIMO, was killed by the Portuguese Secret Police in 1968, his two oldest children were sent to school in the Soviet Union. Their move to the USSR reflected FRELIMO’s shift towards greater association with the socialist bloc in the late sixties, and Soviet authorities’ interest in symbolic gestures, not just the large scale projects on which scholars have tended to focus. Drawing on Soviet and Mozambican archival and oral history sources, this paper uses Chude’s and Eddie Junior’s education at the Moiseyev ballet academy and a boarding school in Ivanovo to discuss the effects of socialist internationalist links for individuals, and as an optic to bring broader Soviet-Mozambican relations into view. As children of a revolutionary VIP their position in the USSR was exceptional, and yet in many ways their Soviet adventures were relatively “normal,” reflecting too Mozambique’s experience with the Soviet Union on a wider scale. While it was a symbolic coup to have the teenaged Mondlanes present in the USSR, they experienced misunderstandings, disagreements, neglect and eventually apparent disinterest in their fate – which by extension, mirrors an ambivalent interest in the fate of socialist Mozambique on the part of the internationalist Soviet Union.