Soviet History Colloquium with Alain Blum "A long journey home – Stalinist deportation from the Western territories of the Soviet Union"
The paper focuses on Stalinist deportation from the Western territories of the Soviet Union annexed after 1939, and from other Central European countries. After briefly presenting the deportation process itself, and the diverse trajectories of deportees, it will emphasize the long and hesitant process of liberation after Stalin's death. It will show how destalinization remained an incomplete, drawn-out and faltering process until the end of the 1980s.
This presentation also has a methodological aspect, showing how bureaucratic and political history (mainly expressed through archive materials), can be articulated with the history of deportees' varied personal destinies which, while subject to the uniformizing effect of politics and bureaucracy, are also shaped by other factors, leading to a great variety of life trajectories.
This presentation is based on about 200 interviews of former deportees recorded in 15 countries, and on archive materials obtained both from interviewees (photographs, documents, letters) and from state archives (especially those of Moscow, Irkutsk, Vilnius and Kiev).
Alain Blum is a demographer, statistician, historian, and Director of Studies at EHESS in Paris. In addition to recent publications on deportation, he is also author (with Yuri Shapoval) of Faux coupables (2010); Naître, vivre et mourir en URSS (2004); and (with Martine Mespoulet) L'anarchie bureaucratique. Statistique et pouvoir sous Staline (2003).