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Professor Alfred J. Rieber: Stalin and the Struggle for Supremacy in Eurasia - Departmental Research Seminar and Live Stream Session

Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Stalin and the Struggle for Supremacy in Eurasia is a sequel to The Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands. From the Rise of the Early Modern Empires to the End of the First World War. It is a major reinterpretation of the interrelationship of Soviet domestic and foreign policy. In the wake of the collapse of the great multi-cultural dynastic empires of Eurasia (Romanov, Habsburg, Ottoman, Qajar and Qing, the emergence of the Soviet Union from revolution, civil war and intervention under Bolshevik rule required new forms of building the state and conducting foreign relations. In responding to this challenge, Stalin drew upon his experience as a Marxist revolutionary in the borderland of the South Caucasus and the struggle over the Eurasian borderlands during the civil war and intervention to construct a Weltanschauung unique among his rivals. In this study it is called Stalin’s ‘borderlands thesis.’  It combined an approach to the nationalities problem in the Soviet Union with his campaign to ensure security on the frontiers in competition with the successor states of the defunct empires. The rise of ‘the flank powers,’ Nazi German and militarist Japan, and their expansionist plans for Eurasia raised the stakes and intensified the struggle. Stalin resorted to several diplomatic combinations in order to postpone a war that he was convinced would come. During the Second World War, he flexibly fashioned his war aims in light of his borderland thesis, adjusted to the ‘balance of forces’ as he perceived them.  But the foundations of his supremacy in Eurasia were never strong and already began to show signs of weakness in his own life time.

Alfred J. Rieber is currently University Professor Emeritus at the CEU and Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. He has served as chair of the History Departments at both universities where he also won teaching awards. His research interests span the imperial and Soviet periods of Russian history. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim, Woodrow Wilson, Ford and National Council Foundations. Among his numerous books are The Politics of Autocracy (1966), Merchants and Entrepreneurs in Imperial Russia (1982), The Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands: From the Rise of Early Modern Empires to the End of World War (2014) and Stalin and the Struggle for Eurasia (2015).  A collection of his articles and book chapters is currently being considered by The University of Toronto Press. He has just completed a chapter for the New Cambridge History of Communism on “Anti-Fascist Resistance during the Second World War.”

We would like to invite all attendees to a small reception and a book signing with Professor Rieber after the lecture. His latest volumes will be available for purchase at a student-friendly discount.

We are looking forward to seeing you all.

Organisers: Matthias Riedl (Head of Department), Imogen Bayley, Dejan Lukic.

Live stream access: