Soviet and Communist studies

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Soviet and Communist studies is the field of historical studies of the Soviet Union and other Communist states, as well as of communist parties, such as the Communist Party USA, that existed or still exist in some form in many countries, inside or outside the former Soviet Bloc. It is a field rife with conflict and controversy.

While this area is now seldom offered as a field of study in itself, in which one might become a specialist, there are related fields emerging, as may be judged by the titles of academic journals, some of which have changed to reflect the passage of time since 1989 and the effect of the end of Soviet rule. These include: Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Europe-Asia Studies, Post-Soviet Affairs, Communist Studies and Transition Politics, Communisme, and Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization. The historiography of strictly Communist studies is also changing, with some different models of its aims, as well as the major shift caused by access to archives.

According to John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, writing in their book, In Denial: Historians, Communism & Espionage, the historiography of Soviet and Communist studies is characterized by a split between "traditionalists" and "revisionists". Traditionalists characterize themselves as objective reporters of the totalitarian nature of Communism and Communist states; they are criticized by their opponents as being anti-communist, even fascist, in their benighted insistence on continuing to focus on the issues of the Cold War. Alternative characterizations for traditionalists include: "orthodox", "Draperite" (after Theodore Draper), "conservative", "right-wing" or "anti-Communist". Norman Markowitz, a prominent revisionist, referred to them as '"triumphalist", "romantics", "right-wing romantics", and "reactionaries" who belong to the "HUAC school of CPUSA scholarship"'.

Revisionists, characterized by Haynes and Klehr as historical revisionists, are more numerous and, furthermore, dominate academic institutions and learned journals.[citation needed] A suggested alternative formulation is "new historians of American communism", but that has not caught on. They would describe themselves as unbiased and scholarly and contrast their work to the work of anti-Communist traditionalists whom they would term biased and unscholarly.

Journals in the field[edit]

Account required for online access[edit]

The following journals can only be accessed through participating institutions such as libraries or institutions of higher learning which have paid a hefty fee:

Mostly free online access[edit]

The following journals are by subscription but most of the back-issue articles can be accessed free of charge online:

Printed journals[edit]

  • Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung (Yearbook for Historical Communist Studies), ISSN 0944-629X (German)
  • Slavic Review, ISSN 0037-6779

Academic programs[edit]

See also[edit]