From email@example.com Wed Mar 17 10:45:08
From: Le Monde diplomatique <english@Monde-diplomatique.fr>
To: Le Monde diplomatique <english@Monde-diplomatique.fr>
Subject: Soviet history: who's researching what
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 15:58:43 +0100 (CET)
Sensational publications are taking over from other genres. Prominent historians are challenging the prevailing trends: the hasty, tendentious or commercial exploitation of the archives, a polemical approach, the demonisation of Bolshevism, distortion and interference by the authorities. The new insights are none the less impressive.
The Memorial society is researching the system of repression and opposition to communism under Lenin and Stalin. The Democracy foundation, headed by Alexander Iakovlev, formerly an ideologist for perestroïka, is also focusing on the history of the gulag. The head of the University for Human Sciences, Yuri Afanasiev, is drawing up a critical inventory of Soviet society. Social history, a poor relative, is being researched by Elena Zubkova and Elena Osokina.
Under the auspices of Viktor Danilov and Teodor Shanin, the School of Peasant Studies is breaking extraordinary new ground: the peasant revolution of 1902–22 (which is not the usual period); peasant movements in the civil war; collectivisation during the 1930s and eyewitness accounts from survivors. The Moscow Centre for Holocaust Studies, director Illya Altman, is revisiting memories of the persecution and massacre of the Jews.
There are also many local studies and new approaches to 20th century Russian culture and art. School textbooks provide a more complex and diverse view than does the media. Their documentary and teaching qualities are uneven but often remarkable. Few serious Russian researchers have had their work translated into Western languages. (It is worth reading what French historian Jean-Paul Depretto has published.)
There is no shortage of research or thought outside the mainstream in Russia. The debates run counter to the general trend and can be followed in scientific (1) or political and cultural journals like Alternativy, by Alexander Buzgaline and Svobodnaïa Mysl, published by the Gorbachev Foundation; and in the collected studies under the title Where Next for Russia? that consistently review the links between past and present (2).
Russian archives and work have provided the basis for publications by Western specialists on Soviet history, including Catherine Goussef, Moshe Lewin, Sheila Kirkpatrick, Line Viola, Peter Holquist, J Arch Getty, Gabor Rittersporn, Lewis Sigelbaum, Donald Filtzer, Wandy Goldman, Brigitte Studer, Véronique Garros, Alain Blum, Tamara Kondratieva, Sabine Dullin, Myriam Desert, Alexis Berelowitch, Denis Paillard, Pierre Broué, Lilly Marcou, Jean-Jacques Marie, Jean-Paul Depretto, Nicolas Werth, Claudio-Sergio Ingerflom, Jean-Louis Van Regemoorter, Laurent Rucker, Georges Sokoloff and Serge Wolikov.
(1) Otetchestvennaïa Istoriia and Voprosy Istorii.
(2) Under the direction of Tatiana Zaslavskaya, with the Moscow School of Economic and Social Sciences, director Teodor Shanin.