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The Party Nobility. Cold War and the Shaping of an Identity at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (1943-1991)

Dates:
  • Fri 15 Dec 2017 10.00 - 12.00
  Add to Calendar 2017-12-15 10:00 2017-12-15 12:00 Europe/Paris The Party Nobility. Cold War and the Shaping of an Identity at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (1943-1991)

The Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) was founded after the Soviet victory at Stalingrad in 1943 with the mission of training a new generation of flag bearers of Communist ideals and Soviet State interests on the international scene, the so-called meždunarodniki. Often cited as the alma mater of most of the leading figures involved in the conduct of the Soviet diplomacy during Cold War, the MGIMO has received paradoxically little attention from scholars. Most researchers who have mentioned it present the Institute either as a crucible of social reproduction in the 1970s Soviet Union or as a subversive place, whose ‘net thinking’ paved the way to Gorbachev’s perestroika. For their part, numerous meždunarodniki describe the MGIMO as a Soviet Tsarskoye Selo or a Communist Lyceum: they surprisingly refer to their experience at the Institute in terms redolent of Russian imperial history, stressing the fact that they were much more than experts in foreign affairs and that they occupied a distinct place within the Soviet elite. Ranging from the end of World War II to the collapse of the USSR, this research aims at analyzing the making of a hybrid social category, what I describe as Party nobility in the Soviet Union, the identity of which shaped and was shaped by the Cold War. How did an institution and its alumni form a distinct social group that sat at the very core of the Cold War enterprise? How did MGIMO become the place where a specific praxis of foreign affairs was inculcated, based on the hybridisation of aristocratic manners and communist ethics during the Khrushchev and the Brezhnev era? Why was the loyalty of both the institution and the social group put into question during perestroika as early as 1985? These are some of the main questions this research will answer.

Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle

The Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) was founded after the Soviet victory at Stalingrad in 1943 with the mission of training a new generation of flag bearers of Communist ideals and Soviet State interests on the international scene, the so-called meždunarodniki. Often cited as the alma mater of most of the leading figures involved in the conduct of the Soviet diplomacy during Cold War, the MGIMO has received paradoxically little attention from scholars. Most researchers who have mentioned it present the Institute either as a crucible of social reproduction in the 1970s Soviet Union or as a subversive place, whose ‘net thinking’ paved the way to Gorbachev’s perestroika. For their part, numerous meždunarodniki describe the MGIMO as a Soviet Tsarskoye Selo or a Communist Lyceum: they surprisingly refer to their experience at the Institute in terms redolent of Russian imperial history, stressing the fact that they were much more than experts in foreign affairs and that they occupied a distinct place within the Soviet elite. Ranging from the end of World War II to the collapse of the USSR, this research aims at analyzing the making of a hybrid social category, what I describe as Party nobility in the Soviet Union, the identity of which shaped and was shaped by the Cold War. How did an institution and its alumni form a distinct social group that sat at the very core of the Cold War enterprise? How did MGIMO become the place where a specific praxis of foreign affairs was inculcated, based on the hybridisation of aristocratic manners and communist ethics during the Khrushchev and the Brezhnev era? Why was the loyalty of both the institution and the social group put into question during perestroika as early as 1985? These are some of the main questions this research will answer.


Location:
Sala dei Levrieri - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Francesca Parenti - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Prof. Stephen Anthony Smith

Defendant:
Pierre-Louis Arnaud Six (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Examiner:
Alexander Etkind (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Prof. Michel Offerle (ENS, Paris)
Prof. David Priestland (University of Oxford)

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