SHERA members' presentations at the Smithsonian's 2022 Postal History Symposium

A.M. LaVey's picture

SHERA members K. Andrea Rusnock and A.M. LaVey presented at the Twelfth Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium "Political Systems, Postal Administrations, and the Mail" held at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, Dec. 8-9, 2022.

Links to videos of the presentations from the first session, "The Varying Purposes of Stamp Messaging," Thursday, December 8.

"Postal Politics: Soviet Stamps of World War II" - K. Andrea Rusnock

Abstract: Postage stamps during The Great Patriotic War, as World War Two was known in the Soviet Union, were tiny works of art conveying a host of the government’s philosophies relating to the front and home front. These little pieces of Soviet propaganda were a means to send socialist greetings to families and friends all while supporting the war effort. But what was the broader function of these works? How were they intended to function in Soviet society? How did the pictures represent and affect the war effort? Yet, not all of the postal illustrations from these years showed imagery relating to the war. A number of these special little spots of paper depicted representations similar to those of the prewar era. All of these varied works of postal art intersected during the Great Patriotic War and understanding how they functioned as postal art and propaganda is key to comprehending Soviet postal history during this important epoch. This session attempts to answer these questions, and more, in order to gain a better understanding of Soviet history during WWII and how these postal gems intersected with broader Soviet society and worldwide postal history.

"Politico-Philatelic Semiosis in Russia’s 2014 Crimea Issues" - A.M. LaVey

Abstract: This session examines the semiosis of Russia’s philatelic issues following the 2014 Referendum on the Status of Crimea. It will analyze Russian philatelic issues that year, cartographic references on Russian stamps and a stamped card a year after. In addition, it also looks at Ukraine’s postal response. This examination usesresearch derived from the analytic tools of Juri Lotman’s Tartu Moscow semiotic school to understand the meanings behind, significance and importance of using postal products as a method of communication and as a state’s tools of soft power. Why are these small pieces of paper so important that they have been called weapons of hybrid warfare, refused for postal use and have been criticized by the United Nations? Sources used will include academic journal articles, monographs, philatelic catalogs, unpublished philatelic scholarship, as well as Russian, Ukrainian and United Nations official communications.