Russians like to joke that theirs is “a country with an unpredictable past.” This lecture explores the Kremlin’s efforts to deploy official narratives about historical events—World War II above all—to legitimize current policies and shape national identity. In addition, Prof. Tumarkin will highlight grassroots efforts to claim ownership of Russia’s dramatic and contested past.
Nina Tumarkin is Kathryn Wasserman Davis Professor of Slavic Studies, Professor of History, and director of the Russian Area Studies Program at Wellesley College. She is also a longtime Associate of Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Her past career has included the role of adviser to President Reagan, for whom she wrote two invited papers and served as one of six “Soviet experts” who briefed the President, Vice-President, and key cabinet members shortly before Mr. Reagan’s historic first meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in November 1985 at the Geneva Summit. President Bill Clinton read her book, The Living and the Dead: The Rise and Fall of the Cult of World War II in Russia, in preparation for his Victory Day visit to Moscow in 1995. She is also the author of Lenin Lives! The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia. Her current book project explores the politics of the past in Putin’s Russia. At Wellesley College Professor Tumarkin teaches courses on the Soviet Union as well as Medieval and Imperial Russia, and courses on World War II as Memory and Myth, and on the Russian performing arts.
✽ April 17, 4:15PM | Schapiro 129
Sponsored by the Department of Russian and German with support from the Department of History, Programs in Comparative Literature and Global Studies, and the Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures