Hugo Valentin-centrum

Hugo Valentin-föreläsningen 2011: Doctor Nanci Adler

Communism’s “Bright Past”:

Narratives of Loyalty to the Party before, during and after the Gulag

Doc. Nanci Adler

Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences 

The 9th Annual Hugo Valentin Lecture will be held by Associate Professor Nanci Adler of the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam. Prof. Adler is Russianist with an international profile who has for many years researched and taught about the Soviet empire’s oppression and terror against its own population. Her research illuminates the human psychological consequences, on both an individual and societal level, of the cruelty of Soviet communism—including not least the attempts by individuals and society at large to “work through” the legacy of Soviet ideology. Adler is the author of The Gulag Survivor: Beyond the Soviet Regime (New Brunswick, N.J., 2002), which has been translated into several languages. She has also published Victims of Soviet Terror: The Story of The Memorial Movement (Westport, Conn., 1993) as well as many articles on the history of Stalinism, and its consequenses. In 2009, she co-edited Memories of Mass Repression: Narrating the Life Stories in the Aftermath of Atrocity (New Brunswick, N.J., 2009).

Her lecture this evening will focus upon prisoner and returnee accounts from the Gulag, the former Soviet Union's network and system of prison camps. Despite the circumstances many of the accounts demonstrate an enduring faith in Stalin, the Communist Party and the Communist project. Even some Gulag prisoners who were falsely convicted returned from the camp years maintaining their loyalty to the system of government responsible for their imprisonment and suffering. The hardships of their camp experience, combined with the hardships of return, profoundly influenced many for the rest of their lives. Upon return, the struggle for survival in the camps evolved into a struggle for re-intergration into Soviet society, and re-qualification into communities that were often dependent on or directly linked to the Communist Party. Through materials that have become available, including interviews conducted by Adler herself, it has now become possible to study this phenomenon. As Adler argues, investigating Gulag prisoners' attitudes toward the Party should facilitate a deeper understanding not only of the dynamics of Soviet Communism, but arguably also of the dynamics of repressive regimes in general.

Per Jegebäck

The lecture takes place on Wednesday 9 March 2011 at 19:15, in the University Main Building’s Lecture Hall X.