What Went Wrong with Russia?

College of the Holy Cross Historian Cynthia Hooper

Monday, September 19, 2022 3:00 PM to 4:15 PM EDT
Zoom Webinar

When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991 and the new president of an independent Russia, Boris Yeltsin, announced an overnight shift from Communism to capitalism, most Western leaders rejoiced. It seemed that a superpower enemy was rapidly transforming itself into a U.S. ally. Cynthia Hooper will examine how Western scholars viewed Russia at the time and explore the assumptions and practices that shaped the politics of economic transition.  How did Russians view the U.S. during the Yeltsin years and how has this “memory” of the 1990s been re-shaped by Kremlin handlers and incorporated into Russian propaganda today? What does Russia’s war with Ukraine, in the face of western sanctions, tell us about changes and continuities in the practice of dictatorial power?

Cynthia Hooper is Director of Russian and Eastern European Studies and Associate Professor of History at the College of the Holy Cross. She has extensive research experience having spent several years in the Russian cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, and Samara. She has been a fellow at Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Woodrow Wilson Center's Kennan Institute. She has published widely on aspects of Soviet dictatorship during the Stalin era, particularly on the experience of repression and the actions and attitudes of those involved in its organization and practice. Since the beginning of Russia’s war on Ukraine in 2014, she has specialized in the study of contemporary Russian media strategies, writing on the subject for, among others, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and for The Conversation. She has been featured on CNN, Bloomberg News, ITV, and NPR and speaks frequently to businesses and consulting companies eager to learn more about Russian propaganda and disinformation, the current situation inside Russia, and the possible consequences of the Ukraine-Russia conflict for Europe and the wider world.

This session will be moderated by Steven Barnes, Director of the Program in Russian and Eurasian Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. He is the series organizer and teaches and researches broadly on the history of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, modern Russia, Kazakhstan, and the other independent countries from this imperial space.


This lecture is part of George Mason University's Fall 2022 Lecture Series, "Russia's War on Ukraine in Historical Perspective." For other events and information on the series, visit the main series page.


Register for the Zoom webinar for this and other events in the series.

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