The 2013 SOYUZ symposium “Authoritarianism and Beyond: Lessons from Postsocialist Societies” contemplates the characterization of many contemporary postsocialist societies as authoritarian. Highlighting strong presidential authority, lack of democratic succession of rule and insufficient public representation, this analytic posits authoritarianism is the opposite of liberal democracy. The participants of the symposium seek to extend interpretive work on authoritarianism beyond this dualistic framework. Drawing on original field research, these papers offer an insight into the official and popular representations and memories of authoritarian pasts and presents and explore analytical limits and potentialities of the term authoritarianism itself.

The 2013 SOYUZ symposium committee: Zhanara Nauruzbayeva (Columbia University), Alan Timberlake (Columbia University), Elise Giuliano (Columbia University), Marina Mikhaylova (Temple University), and Tsveta Petrova (Columbia University).

The symposium is hosted and sponsored by the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at Columbia University.


SOYUZ, the Research Network for Postsocialist Cultural Studies, is an interdisciplinary forum for exchanging work based on field research in postsocialist countries, ranging from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. The Symposium has met annually since 1991 and offers an opportunity for scholars to interact in a more intimate setting. SOYUZ is formally constituted as the Post-Communist Cultural Studies Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and is also recognized as an official unit of the Association for Slavic, East European Studies and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES formerly AAASS).

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