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Dr Daria Zelenova is a research officer on the Leverhulme-funded project "Global Soldiers in the Cold War", exploring the transnational histories of military exchanges in southern Africa's liberation struggles, with a particular focus on the connections between the national liberation movements and the Soviet Union. She conducts oral history interviews with ex-servicemen who provided assistance to the African freedom fighters, among them the military advisers and interpreters who worked hand in hand with their African trainees. Daria explores the variety of understandings and vernacular meanings of Soviet internationalism and soldiers’ agencies beyond ideological frames. The research also looks at current implications of these military exchanges for present-day memorial policies, including with regard to veterans’ groups and museum expositions.
Daria graduated from the People’s Friendship University in 2008 with a specialization in international relations. She received her PhD in Political Sciences from the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for African Studies in 2011 and has since focused her research on the social and political history of South Africa.
Daria’s research interests include the analysis of human agency and its interplay with ideologies and power structures in the national liberation movements, including at their training sites. She is interested in the social and cultural meanings of military spaces created during the Cold War exchanges, the performativity of Soviet solidarity practices, and the identities of internationalist-fighter. She explores the anthropology of Soviet internationalism and the history of Third-World solidarities in the late socialist period, as well as the current memorialization politics of former internationalist-war veterans in Russia.