(Point & Counterpoint) Based on both archival work and oral history, the growing research on the 1960-80s development policies in the Soviet periphery offers a more nuanced picture of how the Communist regime managed its population’s expectations and needs. Maria Lipman discusses the topic with University of Amsterdam Senior Lecturer Artemy Kalinovsky.
Maria Lipman: In your book, you look at modernization—or industrialization—in Central Asia, specifically Tajikistan. You focus on the period after Stalin’s death. Why did you pick that period?
Artemy Kalinovsky: There are several things that happened both internationally and in the Soviet Union that make that era particularly interesting. One is, of course, that de-Stalinization opened up political and intellectual space; this included relative freedom to talk about history and the state of economic development. A second is that under Nikita Khrushchev the Soviet Union tried to become heavily involved in the whole process of decolonization, much more so than under Stalin. That led the Soviet government to pay more attention to its own peripheries, such as Central Asia and the Caucasus. Focusing on this period gave me an opportunity to juxtapose this story—which has been largely ignored by scholars—with the better-known story of Western development aid. […]