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


An international conference on the problems of the methodology of Stalinism research arranged by Aleksanteri Institute (University of Helsinki), Unioninkatu 33, 2nd floor

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, 3.—4. 9. 2010). 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 undoubtedly 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.


10.00 KATALIN MIKLOSSY (Dr., Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki) – Opening words

10.15 – 10.45 MIKHAIL MASLOVSKIY (prof., Nizhni Novgorod State University) – Towards A Neo- Weberian Historical Sociology of Stalinism

10.45 – 11.15 LENNART SAMUELSON (doc., Östekonomiska institutet, Stockholm) – Interpretations of Stalinism: Historiographical Patterns since the 1930s and the Role of the ”Archival Revolution” since the 1990s

11.15 – 11.45 IAIN LAUCHLAN (prof., University of Edinburgh) – Feliks Dzerzhinskij and the Origins of Stalinism

11.45 – 12.15 Discussion

12.15. -- 14.15 Lunch

14.15 – Discussion continues


Lecture Room XII, Main Building of the Helsinki University

17.00—18.00 LENNART SAMUELSON (doc., Östekonomiska institutet, Stockholm) – Vad har de ryska arkivens öppnande sedan 1900-talet betytt för vår kunskap om Stalin och stalinismen?

18.00—19.00 MARKKU KANGASPURO (Dr., Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki) – Neuvosto-Karjala – vaihtoehtoinen malli stalinismille?


(The papers will be presented in two parallel sections)

  Sectio I
10.00 – 10.30 ELENA HUBER (Dr., Universität für angewandte Kunst, Wien) – Pro-women-policy or the Renewed Appreciation of Feminine Styles in the Stalin period

10.30—11.00 TOMI HUTTUNEN (Dr., University of Helsinki) – Russian Culture and Stalinism

11.00 – 11.30 ELINA VILJANEN (Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki) – Towards Stalinism: Methodology of Sovietization of a Musical Academician



14.00 – 14.30 A. JAN KUTYLOWSKI (Dr., Polish Academy of Sciences and University of Oslo) – Stalinism from the Viewpoint of Sociosciences: Reflections on the Origins, Underlying Intertemporal Factors, Decay and Fall

14.30 – 15.00 MARKKU KANGASPURO (Dr., Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki) – Stalinism as a Structural Choice of the Soviet Society and its Alternatives

15.00 – Discussion

  Sectio II
10.00 – 10.30 VALENTIN NICOLESCU (Dr., National School of Political Science and Public Administration, Bucharest) – Defining Stalinism: An Ideological Approach

10.30 – 11.00 JUTTA SCHERRER (Dr., Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris) – Interpretations of Stalin and Stalinism in Russian History Schoolbooks Today

11.00—11.30 Discussion


14.00 – 14.30 CARLOS REBELLO DE MENDONCA (Prof., Rio de Janeiro State University) – Trotsky’s Thermidor Thesis: A Necessary Reassesment

14.30 – 15.00 VESA OITTINEN (prof., Aleksanteri Institute) – Stalin as ”World Spirit Embodied”: the Hegelian Interpretations of the Phenomen of Stalinism in Lukács and Bukharin

15.00— Discussion

Minor changes in the programme are yet possible