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Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Bucerius Dissertation Completion Scholarship

"Filling the ‘Blank Spots’ of the Dark Pages of our History”: Dissident Historians’ Underground Accounts of the Soviet Past (1956-1985)


The dissertation explores the birth of a dissident historiography on Stalinism and other « blank spots » of Soviet history in the post-Stalin era. While Khrushchev’s destalinization course had opened the way for the criticism of Stalin’s crimes, Brezhnev’s new freeze after 1965 outlawed such explorations of the past and forced independent researchers to retreat underground. As anti-Stalinism became a key force in the birth of a dissident movement, dissident researchers gave a voice in their works to hundreds of former political prisoners, and published their work abroad, despite the threat of repressions. The cases studied are that of Roy Medvedev, Anton Antonov-Ovseenko, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Alexander Nekrich and the dissident historical journal “Pamiat’”.

Barbara Martin has a BA in Russian and History from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She has obtained her Master’s in International History and Politics from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, in Geneva, and is currently completing her PhD in the same institution, under the supervision of Prof. Andre Liebich. In addition, she has spent one or several semesters at the following universities; NUI Galway (Ireland), Herzen Pedagogical Institute (St Petersburg, Russia), Yale University (USA) and the Higher School of Economics (Moscow, Russia), where she was a Swiss National Science Foundation Fellow in the fall of 2014.

"History as Dissent. Independent Historians in the late Soviet era and in post-Soviet Russia: from “Pamiat’” to “Memorial”, in Ben Dorfman (ed), Dissent Refracted, Peter Lang, 2015. (forthcoming)

Soviet dissident historians as a societal phenomenon of the post-Stalin era (1956-1985)”, International Journal of Russian Studies, n°3/1 (January 2014).

Babi Yar : la commémoration impossible », Emulations, n°12 (printemps 2013), 67-79.

Le Holodomor dans les relations russo-ukrainiennes de 2005 à 2010 : guerre des mémoires, guerre des identités », Relations Internationales, Vol. 2, n° 150 (Printemps 2012), 105-116.

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