Russia: does It believe in anything? | LSE Festival

Hosted by LSE Festival: People and Change

Sheikh Zayed Theatre, Cheng Kin Ku Building (formerly New Academic Building)


Grigor Atanesian

Adam Curtis

Professor Tomila Lankina

Professor Vladislav Zubok

Adam Curtis’s BAFTA-nominated BBC series, Russia 1985-1999: TraumaZone, documents what it felt like to live through the collapse of communism and democracy, based on preserved and digitised footage from BBC archives and forgotten or never shown scenes from Soviet life and life in post-Soviet states. 

Adam Curtis and Traumazone producer Grigor Atanesian, in conversation with Professor Vladislav Zubok and Professor Tomila Lankina, will reflect on what went wrong thirty-something years ago. How might understanding this recent traumatic history help us understand the present, and future, of Russia and its political system? 

Please note that an edited cut of the film will be shown at the start of the event, which contains some strong language and some upsetting scenes.

Meet our speakers and chair

Grigor Atanesian is a BBC journalist and documentary producer. 

Adam Curtis is a journalist and BAFTA award-winning filmmaker. Russia 1985-1999 TraumaZone: What It Felt Like to Live Through the Collapse of Communism and Democracy is available to watch on iPlayer. 

Tomila Lankina (@TomilaLankina) is Professor of International Relations in LSE’s Department of International Relations whose research focuses on comparative democracy and authoritarianism, mass protests and historical patterns of human capital and democratic reproduction in Russia and other states. Her latest book The Estate Origins of Democracy in Russia: From Imperial Bourgeoisie to Post-Communist Middle Class (Cambridge University Press 2022) is on the long-term patterns of reproduction of social structure in Russia from the Tzarist times to the present and on why these legacies matter for democracy, development and social inequalities.

Vladislav Zubok (@VladislavZubok1) is Professor in the Department of International History, LSE with expertise on the Cold War, the Soviet Union, Stalinism, and Russia’s intellectual history in the 20th century.  His most recent books are Collapse. The Fall of the Soviet Union (Yale, 2021), The Idea of Russia: The Life and Work of Dmitry Likhachev (2017), Dmitry Likhachev. The Life and the Century (in Russian, 2016) A Failed Empire: the Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (2007) and Zhivago’s Children: the Last Russian Intelligentsia (2009).

More about this event

This event is part of the LSE Festival: People and Change running from Monday 12 to Saturday 17 June 2023, with a series of events exploring how change affects people and how people effect change. Booking for all Festival events will open on Monday 15 May. 

Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEFestival  

Podcast and video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Russia: does It believe in anything?

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