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Dissertationsprojekt von Philine Apenburg

Georgia after 1953: A post-Conflict Transition in a Socialist Society (Arbeitstitel)

My project investigates the so-called de-Stalinization period in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, focusing in particular on the containment of the violence that had permeated the Stalin years. Just as in the entire Soviet Union, people in Georgia had lived through a cycle of violence that had started with the Revolutions of 1917, continued into the Civil War years and the collectivization campaigns of the late 1920s, and eventually culminated in the Stalinist terror. A key aim of Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization project was to rein in this arbitrary, state-sponsored violence of the Stalin years. Interestingly, the Georgian S.S.R. was not only one of the regions most heavily affected by the Stalinist terror but was simultaneously most vehemently opposed to the new realities of the period after Stalin.
This project views de-Stalinization as a transitional period in the sense that it was aimed at reforming the structures that had facilitated the Stalinist terror. Crucially, these reforms were initiated by the old Stalinist elites without challenging the political system or its ideological premise. My project focuses explicitly on what this transitional process meant for a Soviet republic on the national periphery. After all, the fact that Stalin himself as well as a number of his prominent henchmen were native Georgians, complicated the de-Stalinization project in Georgia. I will ask how representatives of party and state institutions managed the aftermath of the arbitrary violence of the Stalin years and will explore society’s reactions to the changing realities of Soviet rule. I hope to shed light on the interactions between the state’s approach and the reactions from below during this transitional period: On the one hand, I will look at the state-sponsored transition and investigate the changes initiated from above — such as the restructuring of the Georgian Communist Party, security sector reforms, rehabilitation measures, and the (limited) prosecution of perpetrators. On the other hand, I will ask how Georgians reacted to this transitional period and in turn influenced the reform processes. By explicitly focusing on a transition in a socialist country, I hope to both draw on as well as contribute to approaches from the social sciences, in particular from areas such as post-conflict studies and peace building.



Philine Apenburg, Jahrgang 1989, studierte Englische Literatur, Geschichte und Politik an der University of Glasgow und im Rahmen eines Auslandsjahres an der McGill University in Montreal. Danach wechselte Philine an die Freie Universität Berlin und die Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin und schloss dort 2016 den Masterstudiengang Global History ab. In Berlin war sie außerdem als studentische Hilfskraft am Lehrstuhl Geschichte Osteuropas an der Humboldt-Universität tätig. Weitere praktische Erfahrungen gewann Philine durch mehrere Praktika im Bereich der Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik in verschiedenen politischen Institutionen in Berlin. Seit April 2016 ist sie Stipendiatin der a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities. Ihr Dissertationsprojekt wird von Prof. Dr. Maike Lehmann (Universität zu Köln) betreut.

Kontakt: philineapenburg(at)yahoo.de


Titelbild: Lenin Square in Tbilisi, Georgia. In 1956, the Lenin Statue was erected on the square, which was called "Beria Square" during the Stalin period. (https://georgiaabout.com/2014/10/17/freedom-square-in-tbilisi/) // Portraitfoto: Patric Fouad