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Award winning historian appointed as next Philippe Roman Chair at LSE

Timothy SnyderHistorian and award-winning author Professor Timothy Snyder will take up the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs for 2013-14.

Professor Snyder is currently the Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University, specialising in the political history of central and eastern Europe as well as the Holocaust. A prolific author, he has written five award-winning books including Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin, which has been awarded ten awards including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities and the Leipzig Award for European Understanding and was named on 12 book-of-the-year lists for 2010.

The Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs is based in LSE IDEAS, the centre for the study of international affairs, diplomacy and grand strategy. The annual post gives LSE the chance to bring a renowned academic from another part of the world to the School for a year of research, teaching and discussion.

Professor Snyder said: “I am delighted to be returning to the UK, where I earned my doctorate, and feel privileged to be joining colleagues whom I greatly admire at LSE.”

Professor Arne Westad, director of LSE IDEAS, said: “Tim Snyder has revolutionized our understanding of central and eastern European history in the 20th century. It will be a privilege to have him teach here next year.”

Professor Snyder received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997 where he was a British Marshall Scholar. He has held fellowships in Paris and Warsaw and Harvard, where he was an Academy Scholar, and is a frequent guest at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. He regularly takes part in conferences on Holocaust education and is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and sits on the advisory councils of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies.

His other award winning books are Nationalism, Marxism and Modern Central Europe: a biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz; The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999; Sketches from a Secret War: a Polish artist’s mission to liberate Soviet Ukraine; The Red Prince: the secret lives of a Habsburg archduke; and Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. Most recently he helped the late Tony Judt compose a thematic intellectual history entitled Thinking the Twentieth Century. He is currently at work on two books, one a study of the Holocaust and the other a global history of eastern Europe.

The current holder of the post is Professor Anne Applebaum. Former Philippe Roman Chairs include Professors Ramachandra Guha, Niall Ferguson, Giles Keppel, Chen Jian and Paul Kennedy.

Professor Snyder will take up the post at LSE in October 2013 and will give four public lectures over the academic year on Eastern Europe and the World as well as conduct a postgraduate seminar series entitled The Holocaust as World History.


Contact Jess Winterstein, LSE Press Office, 020 7107 5025, j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk  


Professor Snyder will give four public lectures on Eastern Europe and the World during his time at LSE IDEAS.

(1) The Origins of the Nations: the Brotherlands hypothesis, Tuesday 15 October 2013

Why do we have nations at all? And why do we have the nations that we have? Scholarly explanations of the rise of nationalism focus on general factors, whereas national histories treat each group as an exception. Perhaps a theory that linked the general opportunities afforded by mass politics to the particular opportunities inherited by traditional elites might provide an answer. Here we will consider the cases of brothers from important families who chose different nationalities and led rival national movements.

(2) The Origins of the Revolution: Marx and Eastern Europe, Tuesday 5 November 2013

Marx and Engels tended to be romantics about east European liberation from imperial rule in the nineteenth century, but the period of nominally Marxist rule in the twentieth is one of oppression. The theorists imagined a revolution that would spread from Germany to the east; history brought a revolution that arose in Russia and then spread to the west. What can we say, today, about the theory and the practice? Was Marxism in any sense native to eastern Europe? 

Inverting Marx's expectations, did socialism prepare the way for capitalism? Or is the communist interlude simply to be bracketed and forgotten? The sheer violence of Marxism-Leninism in power, one subject of the next lecture. must overwhelm. But the violent takeovers of the

1940s and the peaceful revolutions of the 1980s must be understood as one history, and Marx, despite everything, might yet have something to tell us about what comes next.

(3) The Origins of Mass Killing: the Bloodlands hypothesis, Tuesday 21 January 2014

At no other time in European history were so many human beings deliberately killed as a matter of policy as in eastern Europe between 1933 and 1945. In the lands between Berlin and Moscow, the Soviets killed more than four million by starvation and bullets, the Germans more than twice that number by starvation, bullets, and gas. Most deliberate Soviet killing, and almost all deliberate Nazi killing, took place in this zone. If we can understand the totality of the catastrophe, we will better understand the two regimes, and we may be better prepared to understand its component parts, the most significant of which was the Holocaust of European Jews, which will itself be the subject of the next lecture.

(4) The Origins of the Final Solution: Eastern Europe and the Holocaust, Tuesday 11 March 2014

The Nazi Final Solution was implemented in occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet Union, in the lands that after the end of the war quickly fell behind the Iron Curtain. The opening of borders and archives has permitted a much fuller acquaintance with the victims of the Holocaust, the vast majority of whom were east European Jews, as well as with the motivation and behaviors of the German perpetrators and the east Europeans who aided them in the murder. Must the national history of eastern Europe, with which we began, now collapse into nothing more than a prehistory of catastrophe? Or might instead a grounding in national history help us better discern the human causes of the Holocaust? Only an explanation that can unite Hitler's metaphysical anti-Semitism with the experience of German power in eastern Europe can be satisfactory.

13 March 2013