Creating the Stalinist other: Anglo-American historiography of Stalin and Stalinism, 1925-2013
Galy, Ariane Madeleine Melodie
The Western historiography of Stalin and Stalinism produced in the period 1925 to the present day is a strikingly varied body of work in which the nature of Stalin, his regime and his role within his regime have been and continue to be the subject of debate. This characteristic is all the more striking when we consider that from the earliest years of the period under study there has been a general understanding of the nature of the Stalinist regime, and of the policies and leader which have come to define it. This thesis analyses the principal influences on research which have led to this body of work acquiring such a varied nature, and which have led to an at times profoundly divided Western, and more specifically Anglo-American, scholarship. It argues that the combined impact of three key formative influences on research in the West over the period of study, and their interaction with each other, reveal recurring themes across the whole historiography, while also accounting for the variety of interpretations in evidence. The first impact identified is the lack of accessibility to sources during the Soviet period, which posed a constant and real obstacle to those in the West writing on Stalin and Stalinism, and the impact of the removal of this obstacle in the post-Soviet era. The second is the influence of wider historiographical trends on this body of work, such as the emergence of social history. Finally the thesis argues that evolving Western attitudes to Stalin and Stalinism over this period have played a key role in constructions of Stalin and his regime, demonstrating an on-going historical process of the othering of Russia by the West. The extent and nature of this othering in turn provide a central line of enquiry of the thesis. Tightly intertwined with all three impacts has been the changing global political context over the period in question which provides the evolving and influential contextual backdrop to this study, and which has given this body of work a deeply political and personal character.