Soviet History Colloquium with Oleg Khievniuk "Dictatorship from Above: Stalin's Everyday Power"
It is no exaggeration to say that the social aspects of the development of the Stalinist dictatorship (dictatorship from below) have enjoyed special attention in the last decade. Old-fashioned and even new political history have turned into a historiographical step-child. Despite this, working with documents, the historian cannot avoid noticing the intricate dance between objective factors and personalities, or between pattern and random occurrence. In a dictatorship, the role of the dictator’s personal predilections, prejudices, and obsessions is greatly magnified. What can so many new sources of information that have become available with the opening of Soviet archives tell us about this role and about Stalin’s everyday power? What did the dictator know and how did he know it? How did he exercise his power? What does it mean to write a political biography today?
Oleg V. Khlevniuk is a senior research fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and its Consequences, and senior research fellow at the State Archive of the Russian Federation. He is the author of The History of the GULAG. From Collectivization to the Great Terror(2004); with Yoram Gorlizki Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 1945-1953 (2004); Master of the House. Stalin and His Inner Circle (2008) andStalin. New Biography of a Dictator (forthcoming with Yale University Press, 2015).