Research seminar Sociology Russia, Political science

Investigative research in China and Russia: looking for common support for discussion


Isabelle Thireau

Directrice d'études de l'EHESS, directrice de recherche au CNRS (CCJ-CECMC)

The fact that Russian and Chinese societies once belonged to imperial systems shaped by Communism subjects them to a lasting suspicion of social otherness and a degree of political distrust. The aim of this seminar, based on three thematic study days, is to pay justice to the social and political dynamics that make these societies intelligible. How have social and political practices in China and Russia been reconfigured in territories that are faced in their own ways with the challenges of the 20th and 21st centuries, and how, at the same time, does the past manifest itself? How do the career paths and deliberations associated with people’s choices and commitments enable both social inventiveness and a reconfiguration of political constraints? To answer these questions, we use both historiographical material and field investigation, current observations and retrospective narratives. This combined dialogue of young and experienced researchers is not intended to achieve a point-by-point comparison but rather to share the issues, references and ideas about practical arrangements for investigative research, so as to contribute together to a better understanding of Russian and Chinese societies, and in addition, the advance of the social sciences on questions of the experience of historical upheavals, chosen and enforced displacement, public action and the economics of social transformation (according to the theme selected for each study day).