Cult of Personality: Social Actors behind the Stage
Tue, November 13, 2012 • 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM • CAL 422
The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies presents:
“Cult of Personality:
Social Actors behind the Stage”
Department of Sociology
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
3:00 pm in CAL 422
This presentation will identify the causes and the structural conditions which permit the development of cults of personality of state leaders in totalitarian societies. The existing literature, although scarce, brings important contributions to the understanding of this phenomenon. However, most studies have focused on single cases (Stalin, Al-Asad, Mussolini, Castro), and most lack historical depth, therefore they cannot address causality in a generalizable way, nor can they account for counterfactuals. I propose a historical study, focusing on an in-depth analysis of Ceausescu’s cult in Romania, comparatively informed by other positive cases and by similar dictatorships that did not have personality cults. My causal argument integrates multiple levels, taking into account structural and cultural conditions, and the agency of individuals involved in the creation of the cult. Contrary to conventional wisdom and to scholarly literature, I assert that the cult was notdemanded by the dictator, but initiated by interested subordinates, and spread simultaneously in both directions: toward the dictator and his ruling elites, as well as toward the masses.
Link to presentation poster HERE.