Keynote speaker: Prof. Lynne Viola.
Moderator: Alexandr Voronovici. Participants: the PLURAL Doctoral Seminar and the World History Department members.
The round table took place at the Department of World History, Moldova Pedagogical State University (MPSU), Chisinau, on April 11th.
Notes by Prof. Lynne Viola
2. he is also able to analyze historiographical developments within the larger context of the development of history as a discipline, looking at influences from other national areas as well as looking at the growing pains of a field as it pulled away from its government minders.
While reading this book, I hoped that it will succeed to overcome the antagonistic paradigms (‘totalitarianism’ vs. ‘revisionism’) of the Soviet history, as well as the usual biases and binary concepts (e.g. state vs. society, victims vs. perpetrators, etc.) related to the study of the USSR. Indeed, Edele tries to do so, at least until the last chapter, where he overtly expresses his sympathies, antipathies and scholarly allegiances.
As Lynne Viola said earlier (in this discussion), Stephen Kotkin could not make his scholarly work without Sheila Fitzpatrick’s contribution. We can add that Fitzpatrick herself could not write her books without the contribution of the first historians of the USSR, the so-called ‘totalitarians’. The debate and the polemics are intrinsic features of the academic life, all the more in historical milieus. However, sometimes, when exacerbated by ideological and political adhesions, the polemics biases the academic / historical communication, instead of stimulating the discussion and exchange of ideas. Thus, it is also needed to go beyond the polemical dimension of the academic / historical writing, by reconciling the traditionally opposite paradigms.
Edele also makes an attempt to analyze ‘sociologically’ the state building process – i.e. the bureaucratization and setting up of a state totalitarian authority – in Stalin’s Russia / USSR, trying to explain the relationship between the Soviet people / citizens and the Soviet / Communist State-party and the sources of the Soviet power’s legitimacy in terms of M. Weber’s theory of authority.”