Oral history interview with Susan Heuman, 2017
Susan Heuman was Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute at the time of the interview. She was previously associated with Harriman from the mid-1960s to early 1970s, when it was still the Russian Institute, as she earned her PhD in History. She has published numerous articles and a book, which focus on legal systems and concepts in pre-revolutionary Russia and Eastern European and the implications of these concepts for the post-Soviet world of Russia, the successor states, and Eastern European countries. She has also written on human rights in Eurasia in the context of law and history.
Scope and Contents
In the interview's first session, Susan Heuman speaks about her personal experience of the Russian Institute's impact on the intellectual and social lives of graduate students in the 1960s, including the protests of 1968. She describes 1968, domestically and abroad, as a world-wide revolutionary moment. Heuman then describes her experience with and views on nationality studies. Her primary critique is that the study of nationalities becomes a way to promote nationalism rather than a more intellectually nuanced understanding of history, culture, and other aspects of nationalities. Heuman also analyzes human rights studies. In the second session, Heuman discusses the Harriman Institute's physical move into the SIPA building, and how that changed the atmosphere of the Institute. She elaborates on a number of her statements from her previous session with regards to human rights and nationality studies. Heuman then tells stories that illustrating the paranoia inherent in being a scholar of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2017.