Conference: History and Subjectivity in Russia

posted by Katalin Teller on 2010/05/25 18:49

[ Konferenz | Conference ]

The International St. Petersburg colloquium in Russian history, organized by historians from Russia, the United States, and Western Europe, is held every three years. The goal of the 2010 conference is to engage with historical processes through the analytical lens of the self. It will examine presuppositions about human behavior and ideals of “personality” and humanity on the part of state and cultural authorities from the late Imperial period to the breakup of the Soviet Union; it will follow how these notions were set into motion over the course of a long century of war and revolution; and it will study their effects on the lives, personal horizons, and self-understandings of individuals. Program for download [.pdf].

These questions have not yet been investigated in any sustained or comprehensive fashion. The conference sets out to do this, using insights from historians, anthropologists, literary scholars, philosophers, political scientists, and art historians. Beyond its scholarly goals, the proposed collective inquiry into the standing of the "personality" in modern Russian history carries obvious significance for an understanding of political and cultural processes in Russia today.

The conference program was created from a pool of nearly 200 submissions received from Russian, European, and American Scholars in response to an earlier call for papers.

Monday, 7 June
9.30 – 10.15 Registration
10.15 – 10.45 Welcoming Remarks

10:45 – 13.30 Morning session (break from 12.00 – 12.15): Concepts of the Individual and the Self (lichnost') in Russian History
Chair: Nikolay Smirnov (St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAN)

Keynote Address:
Grigory Pomerants (Moscow), My Life and Engagement with 20th Century Notions of Selfhood ()

Nikolay Plotnikov (University of Bochum, Germany), A Russian Begriffsgeschichte of the State and the Self

Alexander Senyavsky (Institute of Russian History, RAN Moscow), Models of Personal Behavior amidst the Transformations of Russian Society (late 19th-20th centuries)

Rainer Goldt (University of Mainz, Germany), The Self and the Ethos of Science in the Late Soviet Union

Commentators: Jochen Hellbeck (Rutgers University), Oleg Kharkhordin (European University of St. Petersburg)

13.30 – 14.30 Lunch
14.30 – 17.30 Afternoon session (break from 16.00 – 16.15): Political Revolutions and Individual Self-Definition (Late 19th Century-1920s)
Chair: Gennady Sobolev (St. Petersburg State University)

Alexander Polunov (Moscow State University), The Personality Against the Foil of Empire:Konstantin Pobedonostsev in the Eyes of the Contemporary Russian Intelligentsia

Konstantin Morozov (Memorial Society, Moscow), Self-Practices of the Revolutionary Subculture in the early 20th Century

Еlena Levkievskaya (Institute of Slavonic Studies, RAN, Moscow), The Child and the Revolution: Personality Formation in an Era of Political Crisis

Vladimir Buldakov (Institute of Russian History, RAN, Moscow), The Destruction of the Revolutionary Self, 1924-1926

Maria Ferretti (University of Viterbo, Italy), Vasily Lyulin, Worker from Yaroslavl: a Microhistory of the Genesis of Stalinism

Commentators: Vladimir Cherniaev (St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAN), Daniel Orlovsky (Southern Methodist University)

Tuesday, 8 June
10.00 – 13.00 Morning session (break from 11.30 – 11.45): Social Contexts of Subjectivity (late 19th Century – 1920s)

Chair: William Rosenberg (University of Michigan)

Barbara Engel (University of Colorado), Married Women and the Rights of the Person

Mark Steinberg (University of Illinois), The Deformed and Decadent Modern Self: Public Discourse on the Urban Self in Russia, 1906-1916

Boris Kolonitsky (St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAN), The Representation of Power and its Social Perceptions during WW I and the Revolution

Oleg Usenko (Tver State University), Models of Selfhood in Russian Cinema, 1908-1919

Olga Velikanova (University of North Texas), The Formation of a Peasant Identity: Modernizing and Traditional Discourses during the 1920s

Commentators: Laura Engelstein (Yale University), Anatolii Ivanov (Institute of Russian History, RAN, Moscow)

14.30 – 17.30 Afternoon session (break from 16.00 – 16.15): Self-Definition in the Face of an Other
Chair: Natalya Lebina (St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance)

Laurie Manchester (Arizona State University), Bearers of Pre-Revolutionary Traditions Become Soviet Citizens: the Self-fashioning of Postwar Returnees from China

Natalya Timofeeva (Central Branch of the Russian Academy of Jurisprudence; Center for Oral History, Voronezh), Exposed to Germany: the Self-Definition of Members of the Soviet Military Administration of Germany (1945-1949)

Alexander Chistikov (St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAN), Soviet Tourists Abroad in the 1950s and 1960s

Dina Fainberg (Rutgers University), In Search of a Socialist Soul: Soviet International Correspondents in the United States, 1950-1985 Commentators: Mikhail Khodiakov (St. Petersburg State University), Benjamin Nathans (University of Pennsylvania)

  Wednesday, 9 June
10.00 – 13.00 Morning session (break from 11.30 – 11.45): Constructing the Human Soul: The Stalin Period
Chair: Ziva Galili (Rutgers University)

Yves Cohen (EHESS Paris), Comparing Subjectivity Regimes in the Interwar Period: the Soviet Union and France

Galina Orlova (Southern Federal University, Rostov-Don), Between Iron Will and Irresolution: The Discursive Production of Will during the Stalin Period

Andrei Shcherbenok (University of Sheffield), The Screened Self: Stalinist Cinema and Its Implied Spectator

Franziska Thun-Hohenstein (Zentrum für Literaturforschung Berlin), Inside the Laboratory of Soviet Biography: the "Lives of Extraordinary People" Book Series (1933-1941)

Anna Eremeeva (Krasnodar State University of Culture and the Arts), In the Genre of Hagiography: Constructing the Biographies of Russian Scientists during Late Stalinism

Commentators: Igal Halfin (Tel Aviv University), Viktor Paneiakh (St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAN)


Thursday, June 10
10.00 – 13.00 Morning session (break from 11.30 – 11.45): Selfhood and War: 1914-1918, 1941-1945
Chair: Mark Steinberg (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Alexandre Sumpf (University of Strasbourg, France), Political Mobilization and the Military Demobilization of Russian WW I Veterans (1914-1921)

Emily Van Buskirk (Rutgers University), Lydia Ginzburg and the Post-Individualist Self

Alexis Peri (University of California, Berkeley), Identity under Siege: Reformulating and Recreating the Self inside the Leningrad Blockade

Polina Barskova (Hampshire College), Self-Portrait with Siege: A Study in Traumatic Ekphrasis

Commentators: Nikita Lomagin (European University of St. Petersburg), Irena Saleniece (Daugavpils University, Latvia)

14.30 – 17.30 Afternoon session (break from 16.00 – 16.15): The Revival and Decline of the Socialist Personality – from the Thaw to Perestroika and Beyond
Chair: Vladimir Noskov (St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAN)

Mikhail Rozhansky (Center for Independent Social Research and Education, Irkutsk), The Euphoria of Collectivism: "Shock-Work" Construction Brigades and their Tales

Anatoly Pinsky (Columbia University), The Conscience of a Communist: The Making of Fedor Abramov, 1953-1958

Nikolay Mitrokhin (University of Bremen), Soviet Religious Scholars, Atheism, and the Communist Central Committee Apparatus (1960s-1980-s)

Sergei Pankratov (Volgograd State University), The Transformation of the Imperial Self in the Consciousness of My Generation, or: how the Generation of Today's Forty-year Olds Looks Back at the 1980s and 1990s

Commentators: Serguei Oushakine (Princeton University), Alexandr Vakser (St. Petersburg Institute of History, RAN)
17.45 – 18.30 Concluding Discussion
18.30 – 20.00 Farewell Reception

Conference location – European University of St. Petersburg, Aktovyi zal, Gagarin Street 3 (Metro "Chernyshevskaya")

The conference language is Russian. Papers will not be read at the conference; participants are asked to read all papers ahead of time. They can be downloaded from the websites of the St. Petersburg Institute of History ( and the Rutgers University History Department ( Time limits for presentations, questions, and commentaries: Panelists presenting their papers: 10 minutes each Panelists responding to individual questions: 5 minutes.

Organizers: Jochen Hellbeck (Rutgers University), Nikolay Mikhailov (St. Petersburg Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences)


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