Repressive Fields: Economic Theory in Late Stalinism and the Leningrad Affair
This chapter takes us to another case of institutional and field turmoil: high Stalinism after World War II. The Blockade of Leningrad had claimed more than one million victims and disrupted the work of economists, especially those at Leningrad State University. Adjusting to post-war life was its own challenge, but by 1948, the Leningrad Affair heralded a new wave of Stalinist repression aimed at Leningrad elites who led the city through the wartime Blockade. Part of this dynamic took place in public “discussions” as a tool to discipline economists and professors to make sure their “science” did not challenge the authority of elite or ideology. The threat to power, it seemed, was local-level fields: a profession grounded in the search for Truth and intimately linked to Marxism-Leninism, an institution (the university), and “science” as practice and identity that was supposed to transcend social reality. High Stalinism was not only a matter of a suspicious elite rooting out competition; it had a complex dynamic that ran through combinations of institutions that, in this case, came together in the university.