Tarik Amar

Assistant Professor of History

Columbia University

Heyman Center Fellow 2016-17

Project Description:

Tarik Amar’s fellowship at the Heyman Center helped him to complete most of the manuscript of his book “Screening the invisible Front” (preliminary title), a cultural and political history of espionage narratives and television in the Soviet Union, Poland, and East Germany. “Screening” probes the history and legacies of three fictional spy heroes to explore Cold War and postwar popular culture in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which produced a rich array of such fictional intelligence heroes; some of them became vastly popular. His study focuses on three cases, in the shape of highly successful television series made in the 1960s and ‘70s. Little known in the (Cold War) West but very prominent in the (Cold War) East, these films had five things in common: they featured secret agents as heroes; they were extremely popular as well as important to party-state authorities, including security and intelligence services; they made reference to both, the Cold War and World War Two; their popularity was persistent, surviving the collapse of the authoritarian-socialist political regimes under which they had been produced; last but not least, they belonged to the world of mass television that emerged in the Cold War and postwar years  He writes that “the seminar as a whole as well as the specific feedback provided by my fellow participants was truly inspiring and of great value in developing this project.” The book is now under contract for publication with Oxford University Press, USA. 

Tarik Cyril Amar, Assistant Professor, works on the history of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine and, more generally, East Central Europe. His interests include urban history, the history of memory, nationalism, political mass violence and genocide, the Second World War in Europe, and authoritarian forms of socialism.

His dissertation "The Making of Soviet Lviv" has focused on the often violent twentieth-century transformations of a borderland city also known as Lwów, Lvov, and Lemberg. Currently researching the Soviet television series “Seventeen Moments of Spring,” he is also working on a political and cultural history of Soviet and other Cold War narratives and representations of spying, secrecy, and multiple identities.