Book talk: Prestige, Manipulation, and Coercion: Elite Power Struggles in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

This is a hybrid (in-person and online) event.

Lunch will be available from 12 pm, with the book talk commencing at 12.30 pm.

The political successions in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao, respectively, are often explained as triumphs of inner party democracy, leading to a victory of "reformers" over "conservatives" or "radicals." In traditional thinking, Leninist institutions provide competitors a mechanism for debating policy and making promises, stipulate rules for leadership selection, and prevent the military and secret police from playing a coercive role. Here, Joseph Torigian argues that the post-cult of personality power struggles in history's two greatest Leninist regimes were instead shaped by the politics of personal prestige, historical antagonisms, backhanded political maneuvering, and violence. Mining newly discovered material from Russia and China, Torigian challenges the established historiography and suggests a new way of thinking about the nature of power in authoritarian regimes.

About the Speaker

Joseph Torigian is an Assistant Professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington. Previously, he was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton-Harvard's China and the World Program, a Postdoctoral (and Predoctoral) Fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), a Predoctoral Fellow at George Washington University's Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, an IREX scholar affiliated with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and a Fulbright Scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai. He studies elite politics and foreign relations in China and Russia.