In 1966 I went to the USSR for a year of research as a British Country Email List exchange student, hoping to be allowed to work on Lunacharsky's personal papers, which were in the Communist Party archives. The Soviets did not like to give access to Soviet-era archives to foreigners Country Email List and they refused me the consultation. However, after a few months of struggle, I was allowed into the State Archives, considered less politically sensitive, to work on the archives of the Lunacharsky ministry (Narkompros) from the 1920s. Those Narkompros materials were absolutely fascinating. Country Email List Through them I learned about Lunacharsky, but above all I began to understand how politics worked in the ussr. The prevailing idea about the ussr.
Encapsulated in the totalitarian model, held that all policy was formulated Country Email List in the Politburo and then passed down. But what I discovered in the files was that the Ministry of Education formulated policies (just like other ministries, departments of the Central Committee of the Party, etc.) and then tried to put pressure on the Politburo, the government, the Country Email List Council of Ministers and the people who they integrated it so that Country Email List their policies were approved. Sometimes they were successful and sometimes they were not, but I was seeing a political process that the totalitarian model simply did not allow to see.
When you began your historiographical studies of Soviet communism, Country Email List this "totalitarian school" perspective was predominant in Sovietology . However, you took a different stance, focusing on a « story from below » , which served and centered on everyday life. Country Email List What were your criticisms or objections to this paradigm and why did you choose to approach Soviet history from a societal perspective ? My first negative encounters with the "totalitarian model" Country Email List came from my archival work in the ussr . That was before I went to the United States, in the early 1970s.