Stalinism – What It Was About?; 3.-4.9.2010, Helsinki

Conference on Stalinism, September 3-4, 2010

An international conference on the problems of the methodology of Stalinism research arranged by Aleksanteri Institute (University of Helsinki) 3rd—4th of September, 2010 The Aleksanteri Institute is arranging a symposium on the phenomen of Stalinism in Helsinki in the first week of September (Week 35, presumably 3.—4. 9. 2010).

Program pdf:

In recent times, the discussions about the nature of the Stalin rule in the Soviet Union from the 1930’s to the 1950’s and the impacts of Stalinism in the international agenda have been resurfing, partly no doubt because the end of the Cold War and the demise of ideological clichés connected with it, partly thanks to the opening of Soviet archives, which makes the concrete assessment of Stalinist policy and the amount of its victims more reliable. The ”totalitarism theory”, which hitherto has been prevailing in the West as an explanation of the Stalinism phenomen, has been increasingly criticised as insufficient and superficial, although it undoubtely did grasp some aspects of the Stalin regime. However, no consensus as regards to the causal and historical explanation of Stalinism has yet been achieved, but there are many concurring interpretations, starting from the heterodox Marxist attempts to interpret the USSR of the Stalin period as a ”state capitalist” or ”developmental” dictatorship, to recent American analyses of Stalinism as a form of civilization sui generis. In the symposium we intend to focus on the different explanatory models of Stalinism as a political, sociological and cultural phenomen and discuss the methodological approaches to it.

The symposium will be accompanied by two open lectures for a wider public, held in Swedish and Finnish.

The language of the symposium is English, with two papers in German (but with English summaries). The symposium is accompanied by two open lectures for a wider public, the one in Swedish by Dr. Samuelson, who will speak of the different paradigms of Stalinism research and the impact of the "archives revolution" in the 1990's; the other is in Finnish by Dr. Kangaspuro, who will analyze the Soviet Karelia of the 1920's and early 30's as a possible alternative to Stalinism. The "Karelian experiment" was led by red Finnish emigrants and was repressed in the mid-30's as a "deviation".

For additional information, please contact Vesa Oittinen  (vesa.oittinen [at] or Elina Viljanen (elina.viljanen [at]