Director of the Visiting Fellows Programme
Anna Korhonen
Head of International Affairs
tel. +358-(0)50-563 63 07

Coordinator
Eeva Korteniemi
tel. +358-(0)50-4150 571

aleksanteri-fellows [at] helsinki.fi

Aleksanteri Institute
P.O.Box 42 (Unioninkatu 33)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Telephone: +358 (0) 2941 23544

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi
firstname.lastname [at] helsinki.fi

Location & Connections

 

Visiting Fellows 2015-2016

Anatoly Pinsky, EUSP, Russia  

“The Individual after Stalin: Writers, Diaries, and the Reform of Soviet Modernity”
(February-March 2016)

Biography:
Anatoly Pinsky received his Ph D in History from Columbia University and is currently assistant professor (dotsent) of late Soviet and contemporary Russian history at the European University at Saint Petersburg (EUSPb). He is interested in questions of the self and subject, modernity, autobiography, and genre. He is the editor of a Russian-language volume on post-Stalin subjectivities, Posle Stalina: Pozdnesovetskaia sub”ektivnost’, 1953-1985 [After Stalin: Subjectivity in the Late Soviet Union, 1953-1985], to be published by the EUSPb press in 2016, and is writing a monograph on diaries, literary form, and ideas of individuality in the post-Stalin USSR. His work has appeared in Slavic Review, Kritika, and elsewhere.

 

Short description of ongoing research:
At the Aleksanteri Institute, I will be working on a portion of my book project, tentatively titled, The Individual after Stalin: Writers, Diaries, and the Reform of Soviet Modernity. My project examines a modern ideal of individuality advanced by Soviet writers under Joseph Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev. I argue that this ideal amounted to a crucial reconceptualization of Soviet ideology, one that gave the ordinary citizen more agency than ever before in Soviet history. Thus, if the modern subject sees oneself as the object of one’s own creation, post-Stalin writers approached this tenet in a more expansive sense than their early Soviet predecessors. The project also contends that Khrushchev-era writers presented the embrace of this ideal as the primary imperative of post-Stalin reform. My subjects considered individuality the catalyst of the socio-political reforms often at the center of post-Stalin histories. I therefore work to shift the focus in the historiography from institutional change to the self-transformation of writers who saw themselves as the vanguard of progress. At the heart of my study are the diaries and personal papers of more than forty writers, including leading figures such as Fedor Abramov and Aleksandr Tvardovskii. These sources reveal that their authors experienced the post-Stalin era in a quintessentially modern key: faith in progress existed alongside feelings of acute anxiety. I use these sources not only to critically apply theories of modernity to so-called de-Stalinization, but also to explore what the modern experience in the post-Stalin USSR can tell us about the larger modern world.

Email: anatoly.z.pinsky [at] gmail.com

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Sanna Turoma and Mila Oiva