On Wednesday, October 26, the Asia Policy Program is hosting Joseph Torigian, Assistant Professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, to discuss his latest release, Prestige, Manipulation, and Coercion: Elite Power Struggles in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao. This talk will be moderated by Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, director of the Asia Policy Program and Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, at Robert L. Patton Hall, RLP 1.302B at 12:15 PM. The Asia Policy Program is a joint effort of the Clements Center for National Security and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law.
The political successions in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao, respectively, are often explained as triumphs of inner party democracy, leading to a victory of “reformers” over “conservatives” or “radicals.” In traditional thinking, Leninist institutions provide competitors a mechanism for debating policy and making promises, stipulate rules for leadership selection, and prevent the military and secret police from playing a coercive role. Here, Joseph Torigian argues that the post-cult of personality power struggles in history’s two greatest Leninist regimes were instead shaped by the politics of personal prestige, historical antagonisms, backhanded political maneuvering, and violence. Mining newly discovered material from Russia and China, Torigian challenges the established historiography and suggests a new way of thinking about the nature of power in authoritarian regimes.
Joseph Torigian is an assistant professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington. Previously, he was a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton-Harvard’s China and the World Program, a Postdoctoral (and Predoctoral) Fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), a Predoctoral Fellow at George Washington University’s Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, an IREX scholar affiliated with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and a Fulbright Scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai. His new book, “Prestige, Manipulation, and Coercion: Elite Power Struggles in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao” was recently released with Yale University Press and he has a forthcoming biography on Xi Jinping’s father with Stanford University Press.