Thinking globally about history
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Excavating "The Last Empire": Discussing Soviet History and Global History with Serhii Plokhii
Interviews | September 28, 2014

Excavating "The Last Empire": Discussing Soviet History and Global History with Serhii Plokhii

Why did the Soviet Union collapse? Since the USSR formally ceased to exist on December 26, scores of books have been written on the Soviet dissolution, an event that resulted in the creation of fifteen new states across Eurasia and that current Russian President Vladimir Putin famously called "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the twentieth century. In his new book, The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union, Harvard professor Serhii Plokhii offers a definitive account of the end of the Soviet state.

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Global History Forum: Discussing "Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery, and Power in Sudan, 1883-1956" with Steven Serels
Interviews | September 16, 2014

Global History Forum: Discussing "Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery, and Power in Sudan, 1883-1956" with Steven Serels

For most audiences today, the word "Sudan" evokes images at once terrorizing and timeless. Older readers may recall the images of emaciated bodies that television crews relayed from western and eastern Sudan during the great famines of the mid-1980s. Anyone reading today, however, will remember the outrage – but also lack of meaningful reaction – that the Sudanese government's terror in the western region of Darfur evoked during the early 2000s. (Those wars, which then-Secretary of State Colin Powell called genocide, still continue.) According to these images, Sudan remains at once black, Arab, Muslim, poor, hungry; but also – crucially – in the present. Appalled by the horrors of famine and genocide, it is easy to forget to probe the past – a colonial past – to inquire after the structural roots of hunger and famine not as an accident but as an accomplishment of modern state-making. Moral outrage and a human rights-inflected imagination may be important, but it's solid empirical history that furnishes an understanding of the roots of crises like those that plague – or define – Sudanese stateness.

Read more about `Global History Forum: Discussing "Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery, and Power in Sudan, 1883-1956" with Steven Serels`
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