Stalin and Stalinism in Putin’s Russia: Reckoning with the Past
- Date: –17:00
- Lecturer: Dr. James Ryan in Senior Lecturer in Modern European (Russian) History at Cardiff University.
- Contact person: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
The seminar will discuss whether or not a distinct ‘rehabilitation’ of Stalin and Stalinism has occurred and is occurring in Russia both among political elites and ordinary citizens.
The seminar will be based on a paper examining and explaining the views of Russians today - both political elites and ordinary citizens - on Stalin and Stalinism. In so doing, it considers the politics of history in Putin’s Russia, the complexity of representations of the Soviet past, and what these issues can tell us about the mindset of Russia’s ruling elite and citizenry. The key question to be addressed is whether or not a distinct ‘rehabilitation’ of Stalin and Stalinism has occurred and is occurring in Russia. The paper considers public memory and the uses of history through examination of the ways in which a society comes to terms with an extraordinarily complex, contradictory, and traumatic recent past. It reflects on the normative basis and validity of dominant assumptions about the need for public reckoning with, ‘working through,’ and ‘overcoming’ the past; how that should be conducted; and its consequences for a society’s progression.
The paper demonstrates that the Putin administration’s Vergangenheitspolitik (‘policy for the past’) appears deliberately ambiguous and complex. It is an attempt to meet the challenge of providing a unified historical narrative that addresses the need both for national pride and achievement, and reconciliation with traumatic legacies of the past. For their part, Russian citizens’ assessments of Stalin’s role in history demonstrate clearly the disjuncture between dominant views on Stalin in Russia and those held in much of the rest of the world. But they also reflect a complex and divided society.
Dr. James Ryan is Senior Lecturer in Modern European (Russian) History at Cardiff University. He received his PhD from the National University of Ireland, Cork, in 2010. His research is primarily concerned with the intellectual history of Soviet state violence during the inter-war period. He is the author of Lenin’s Terror: The Ideological Origins of Early Soviet State Violence (London and New York: 2012), and his articles have appeared in journals such as Slavic Review, Europe-Asia Studies, and Historical Research. His current monograph project is to write an intellectual history of Soviet state violence, 1918-1941.