CFA: Late Socialism (1956-85): The Forgotten Years between Stalinism and Perestroika (July 24 – July 31, 2015 Tallinn University, Estonia)

Late Socialism (1956-85): The Forgotten Years between Stalinism and Perestroika
Dates: July 24 – July 31, 2015
Location: Tallinn University, Estonia

Late Socialism (1956-85): The Forgotten Years between Stalinism and Perestroika 
Degree course | July 24 – July 31, 2015

The last three decades of the Soviet union prior to perestroika have been labeled as the time of “thaw” and “stagnation” but also as “mature” or “late” socialism. The controversies and legacy of that period have not rendered a simple overarching theory.

The students of the previous epoch of Stalinism have moved on from “totalitarian” and “revisionist” paradigms towards more complex analytical approaches; this includes ideological identification, discursive realities, socio-demographic processes, everyday life, and comparative modernization paradigms, to name a few. The scholars of the “thaw” and “stagnation” have followed similar trends but inclusive and encompassing theories have often been missing from the conceptualizations of that period in which the “pillar” of state coercion was removed and only the two other “pillars” of party dictatorship and planned economy remained. Moreover, late socialism is often squeezed between Stalinism and perestroika both in popular discourses and in many historical research projects. The period is essentially seen as a milder continuation of Stalinism (e.g., in discussions of the nature of regime) or as a prelude to perestroika (e.g., in discussions of consumerism). Political climate in Eastern Europe and archival access have both favoured the study of the first half of Soviet Union’s existence to its second half.

During the course, following questions are discussed: How to generalize about late socialism that seems to have spread plurality and diversity of expeiences and life-worlds? How to bring together the discussions of nationalist and regional diversity with the processes in the urban centres such as Moscow and Leningrad? How to look at the period without dichotomous characterizations (free-totalitarian and resistance-collaboration)? Can the period only be understood in comparison to the simultaneous Western developments or could it be a site of “indegenous” theorising? How to overcome national borders in research that have emerged and solidified in Eastern Europe since the end of the USSR? How to include popular research trends to the study of late socialism? (This may include looking at historie croisee, or histories of itransfers, emotions, soundscapes, and environment.)

See also video interviews with Tallinn Summer School participants and read the diary of 2013.


The course is designed for PhD students of Human and Cultural Geography, Anthropology and Ethnology, Cultural Theory, Literature, Politics, Semiotics, Sociology, History, and the related fields. However. motivated MA students and non-degree scholars are also welcome to apply.

Credit points

Upon full participation with student presentation and 1000-word reflection paper or 2500-word final essay (and no student presentation), students will be awarded 6 ECTS points

Course fee

Non-refundable registration fee: 80 EUR (members of The Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts are exempt from the registration fee).
Accommodation and meals are not included in the fee.


Information about course content: Teet Teinemaa |

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