Exploring the Relationship Between Revolution and Empire in Post-Soviet Ukraine

Mark R. BeissingerEvery two years, the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University holds a special lecture in honor of Zenovia Sochor Parry, a former professor at Clark University and HURI associate. The lecture, supported by a memorial fund, honors her life and work by bringing world-class scholars to Harvard to speak about their research on Ukraine. 

This year's Zenovia Sochor Parry Memorial lecture will be given by Mark Beissinger, the Henry W. Putnam Professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton University and Director of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS). HURI is pleased to welcome Dr. Beissinger to Harvard, where he will offer an engaging presentation on the intersection of revolution and empire in Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union.  

The lecture will be held on Monday, October 24, 2016, from 4:14—6:00 pm in the Belfer Case Study Room (S-020), CGIS South. This event is free and open to the public.

Talk abstract:

Two themes have overshadowed the history of modern Ukraine: revolution and Russian imperialism. They continue to overshadow the history of independent Ukraine, as exemplified by the two revolutions (the Orange Revolution and the Euromaidan Revolution) that have overthrown Ukrainian governments since the collapse of the USSR, the Russian invasions of Crimea, and Russian-sponsored separatism in the Donbass.

 But revolution and empire have never been entirely separate phenomena in the Ukrainian context. They have always been intertwined, though their cultural meaning has evolved over time. In the post-Soviet context they remain intertwined in numerous ways: in the identities that have underpinned Ukrainian revolutionary mobilizations and counter-mobilizations; in the ways in which Russian efforts to reimpose control over Ukraine have played a role in helping to precipitate revolutionary crises; in Russian attempts to manipulate Ukrainian revolutionary situations and in Russian reactions to Ukrainian revolutions; and in the ways in which Russia has come to define itself as an anti-revolutionary (i.e., anti-Orange) power, both domestically and on the world stage.

 This presentation explores the various ways in which revolution and empire have intersected in post-communist Ukraine and why this has been the case, placing both Ukrainian revolution and Russian imperialism into broader comparative context.

Mark R. Beissinger is the Henry W. Putnam Professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton University and Director of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS). He previously served on the faculties of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard University. His main fields of interest are social movements, revolutions, nationalism, state-building, and imperialism, with special reference to the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet states. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, Beissinger is author or editor of five books: Scientific Management, Socialist Discipline, and Soviet Power (Harvard University Press, 1988); The Nationalities Factor in Soviet Politics and Society (Westview, 1988); Beyond State Crisis? Post-Colonial Africa and Post-Soviet Eurasia Compared (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002); Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State (Cambridge University Press, 2002); and Historical Legacies of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Recent writings have dealt with such issues as the role of emulation in the cross-national spread of revolution, nonviolent civil resistance movements, the negative character of revolutionary coalitions, the relationship between nationalism and democracy, the persistence of empire as a category of politics in Eurasia, the historical legacies of communism, and the changing relationship between violence and revolution over the last century.

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