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Lecture - Nanci Adler (University of Amsterdam)

The Future of the Soviet Past: Russia and the Challenge of the Age of Transitional Justice
When Feb 22, 2019
from 05:00 PM to 06:00 PM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Lecture Hall
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 (0)761 203-97362
Attendees open /offene Veranstaltung
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Keynote Lecture

Conference Transitional Justice without Transition? Redressing Past Injustices under State Socialism

Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, February 21-23, 2019


Nearly thirty years after the end of a seventy-year dictatorship that claimed millions of victims, aside from symbolic reparations, the post-Soviet government(s) have implemented little to none of the recognized, institutionalized transitional justice mechanisms to reckon with this past. Rather than fully confronting its history of multiple regime abuses, there has been a persistent, politically-driven effort to manage national and public memory by repressing, controlling, or even co-opting the memory of repression. Now, as under Khrushchev and Gorbachev, the government sanctions the immortalization of victims to a point, but draws a rather thick line when it comes to the discussion of the perpetrators. Not one henchman has been tried, nor one truth commission instigated, victim compensation is limited, as is archival access, the record in history textbooks is a political narrative, and researchers of Stalinism are still arrested or harassed on spurious charges. It was not until 2015 that the state sanctioned the plan for an official monument to the victims of Stalinism. Most of them did not live to see it erected.

This talk will focus on some of the causes and consequences of post-Soviet Russia’s ambivalent attitude toward its Stalinist past, and reflect on how to move beyond current impasses.


Nanci Adler is Professor of Memory, History, and Transitional Justice at the University of Amsterdam and Program Director of Genocide Studies at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). She has authored and/or edited, among others, Keeping Faith with the Party: Communist Believers Return from the Gulag (Indiana University Press, 2012), The Gulag Survivor: Beyond the Soviet System (Transaction Publishers, 2002), Victims of Soviet Terror: The Story of the Memorial Movement (Praeger Publishers, 1993), Understanding the Age of Transitional Justice: Crimes, Courts, Commissions, and Chronicling (Rutgers University Press, 2018), and Tapestry of Memory (Transaction Publishers, 2013). Her current research focuses on transitional justice and the legacy of Communism.