ISS Seminar "Stalin’s Long Shadow: Cultural Policies and Revolutionary Potential in Communist Mongolia"

December 13, 2018


Type Symposium
Intended for General public / Enrolled students / International students / Alumni / Companies / University students / Academic and Administrative Staff
Date(s) January 8, 2019 15:00 — 16:40
Location Hongo Area Campus
Venue Meeting Room (Akamon General Research Building, 5F)
Entrance Fee No charge
Registration Method No advance registration required
ISS Seminar
■Date■ Jan. 8, 2019, 15:00~16:40
■Location■ Meeting Room (Akamon General Research Building, 5F)
■Guest lecturer■ Meredith R. Shaw (Institute of Social Science, the University of Tokyo)
■Title■ Stalin’s Long Shadow: Cultural Policies and Revolutionary Potential in Communist Mongolia

  How do policies of imposed cultural change affect regime stability? More specifically, how do opposition movements make use of unpopular cultural policies to gather popular support under conditions of heavy repression? This research examines the effects of state-imposed cultural initiatives in Mongolia before and after the fall of communism. Using interviews and archival research, I show how the under-theorized element of cultural repression helps to explain both the bloodless collapse of Mongolia’s communist regime and the relative stability of its transition government. As most of the existing literature on communist transitions has focused on the ethnically and culturally diverse states of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the under-studied Mongolian case offers valuable new insights on the trajectory of post-communist regime change under conditions of (relative) cultural homogeneity.
 Building off of the case evidence, I develop a theoretical model for the expected impact of cultural policies that can be applied to other ethnically homogenous autocracies. This framework categorizes cultural policies along two dimensions: severity (mild to severe) and direction (traditionalizing or modernizing). In short, I propose that opposition movements will be larger, more sustained and more diverse when the state imposes severe cultural change moving in a modernizing direction. As a corollary, I predict that in the event of an autocratic regime collapse, the transition government will be less likely to revert to autocracy if it takes steps to undermine the previous autocrat’s unpopular cultural policies. I then apply this model to explain the frequency of popular unrest in colonial-era Korea and Yushin-era South Korea, as well as the near-total lack of unrest in communist North Korea.
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