Eastern European histories

Featured Interviews

Liberalism in Pre-revolutionary Russia: An interview with Susanna Rabow-Edling
Interviews | August 5, 2020

Liberalism in Pre-revolutionary Russia: An interview with Susanna Rabow-Edling

"I wanted to question the contrast between East and West, according to which Russian nationalism is conservative and ethnic, whereas Western nationalism is seen as civil and liberal, hence good. I found that this view of Western nationalism has been questioned a lot while the view on Russian nationalism had not been questioned as much. This contributes to an essentialist view of Russian culture as fundamentally different from Western culture." In Liberalism in Pre-revolutionary Russia: State, Nation, Empire (Routledge, 2018), Susanna Rabow-Edling looks at the history of liberal nationalism in the Russian Empire, covering the period between the Decembrist revolt in 1825 and the October Revolution in 1917. She examines liberal tendencies in the Empire and how they are intertwined with notions of nation and empire.

Read more about `Liberalism in Pre-revolutionary Russia: An interview with Susanna Rabow-Edling`
'It's Not Rocket Science': Nuclear Disasters in and beyond the Soviet Union—An Interview with Kate Brown
Interviews | November 8, 2019

'It's Not Rocket Science': Nuclear Disasters in and beyond the Soviet Union—An Interview with Kate Brown

"About 50 deaths." This was the long-standing consensus held by scientists and worldwide audiences on the death toll caused by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. "Was this really so?" asked Kate Brown, a historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as she started to investigate the oft-overlooked social and environmental hazards in the communities affected by the world's infamous nuclear catastrophe. Her latest book, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future, departs from the consensus and has sparked a global discussion on both the contemporary consequences and history of nuclear energy exploitation in and beyond the former Soviet Union.

Read more about `'It's Not Rocket Science': Nuclear Disasters in and beyond the Soviet Union—An Interview with Kate Brown`
Cossacks and Columbus: An Interview with Yaroslav Hrytsak
Interviews | September 5, 2019

Cossacks and Columbus: An Interview with Yaroslav Hrytsak

Yaroslav Hrytsak is one of the preeminent Ukrainian historians and public intellectuals, an expert in the modern history of Ukraine, as well as nationalism and nationhood in Eastern Europe more generally. We spoke to him about global history, his upcoming book on short Ukrainian history, and the next generation of historians in Ukraine. Prof. Hrytsak suggests global history may help us to understand the nature of political and cultural encounters in the Ukrainian lands, beginning from the Cossack period (XVI-XVIII centuries).

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Elites Connecting Eastern and Western Europe: An Interview with Dina Gusejnova
Interviews | April 3, 2019

Elites Connecting Eastern and Western Europe: An Interview with Dina Gusejnova

Dina Gusejnova, a lecturer in Modern history at the University of Sheffield, looks into this unstable period through the eyes of German-speaking liberal intellectuals who belonged to the old and new nobility of Germany, Austria, and Russia. In her book, European Elites and Ideas of Empire, 1917-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) she analyses how these German-speaking intellectuals used their old networks to call for a new Europe. This fascinating book provides a transnational history of the idea of Europe, linking histories of Germany and Russia, which are usually told separately, through the eyes of a cosmopolitan network of authors. We discussed the place of the old nobility in the new world order, transnational approaches to history, the importance of bridging isolated national historiographies, and the changing patterns of historical research in the last decade.

Read more about `Elites Connecting Eastern and Western Europe: An Interview with Dina Gusejnova`
Wartime Ghosts and Souls in Transit: Placing Soviet History in a Global Context with Franziska Exeler
Interviews | April 9, 2015

Wartime Ghosts and Souls in Transit: Placing Soviet History in a Global Context with Franziska Exeler

Even at a time of a supposed turn towards more global history, our perspectives of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union remain dogged by an insistence on the inescapability of regional specificities. Not least among these are the names for these places themselves – Eastern Europe, itself a relatively recent moniker, cuts off places that once tallied among the richest in all of geographical Europe, like Prague, from a "real Europe" of Paris, London, and Rome, as if "Eastern Europe" itself has a specific, idiosyncratic but common character in a way not true of "Western Europe." Even if the process of EU expansion and economic integration has rendered formerly ridiculed "Polacks" into Europeans, the same courtesy is not always extended to Ukrainians or Belarusians. As recent Western discourse over the Russian annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine shows, commentators are eager to ethnicize and classify "Russian-speakers" from "Ukrainian-speakers," as if the place is explainable only through reference to ethnicity and identity.

Obviously, the experience of both the Cold War and, for countries further east, membership in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, matters greatly for the present and future of countries like Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and, not least, Russia. But to acknowledge the importance of local specifics or the Soviet heritage is not to admit to its monolithic mattering for the direction of those societies. Kiev and Warsaw as much as Singapore and London can be interrogated with the same array of questions, and with the same comparativist's gaze, that seemingly "more global" sites might invite.

Read more about `Wartime Ghosts and Souls in Transit: Placing Soviet History in a Global Context with Franziska Exeler`
Down Under, Transnational, Global: Exploring Russian and Soviet History with Philippa Hetherington
Interviews | February 12, 2015

Down Under, Transnational, Global: Exploring Russian and Soviet History with Philippa Hetherington

Philippa Hetherington explores the emergence of "trafficking in women" as a specific crime in fin-de-siècle Russia, arguing that the legal battle against sex trafficking needs to be understood in terms of larger, global dynamics not unique to just Russia.

Read more about `Down Under, Transnational, Global: Exploring Russian and Soviet History with Philippa Hetherington`
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.

Read more about `Excavating "The Last Empire": Discussing Soviet History and Global History with Serhii Plokhii`
Global Ukrainian Studies in the Making: An Interview with Serhii Plokhy
Interviews | March 12, 2020

Global Ukrainian Studies in the Making: An Interview with Serhii Plokhy

It is only in the past decade that Ukrainian history has begun to be researched in the context of international or global history. The American historian Serhii Plokhy, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University and director of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, is a prominent exponent of this approach. Plokhy's research interests include the early modern history of Ukraine, twentieth-century international history, and intellectual history. We spoke with Serhii Plokhy about the integration of Ukrainian history into global history, the colonial status of Ukraine, and environmental history.  

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Unexpected Guests? The Soviet Union and the History of Global Capitalism: An Interview with Oscar Sanchez-Sibony
Interviews | February 13, 2020

Unexpected Guests? The Soviet Union and the History of Global Capitalism: An Interview with Oscar Sanchez-Sibony

Capitalism versus Communism. To many, the latter half of the twentieth history was deeply shaped by the confrontation between these two ideological and socioeconomic systems. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, capitalism's triumph was credited to its valorization of money and protection of markets, among other factors; and, as the story continues, Communists failed, in part, because they suppressed markets and globalization. Yet, how much of this historical picture holds true?

 

 

Read more about `Unexpected Guests? The Soviet Union and the History of Global Capitalism: An Interview with Oscar Sanchez-Sibony`

Featured Blog Posts

Conference Report: Russia's Global Legal Trajectories: International Law in Eurasia's Past and Present (University College London, 16-17 February 2018).
Conference Reports | June 6, 2018

Conference Report: Russia's Global Legal Trajectories: International Law in Eurasia's Past and Present (University College London, 16-17 February 2018).

On the 16th and 17th of February 2018, the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) at University College London (UCL) hosted an international workshop on "Russia's Global Legal Trajectories: International Law in Eurasia's Past and Present". Organized by Dr. Philippa Hetherington (UCL) with the generous support of the British Academy for Arts and Sciences and Pushkin House, the workshop was dedicated to the history of legal issues in Russia from the Russian Empire, Soviet Union and Russian Federation. The workshop lasted for two days and consisted of 6 panels and a total of 14 speakers. It united historians with legal scholars, which provided a rich basis for discussions of issues of legality at various points in Russian history.

Read more about `Conference Report: Russia's Global Legal Trajectories: International Law in Eurasia's Past and Present (University College London, 16-17 February 2018).`
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