The Communist University of the Toilers of the East, also known as the Far East University, established in April 1921 in Moscow and closed in the late 1930s. The curriculum included Marxist theory, Party organization and propaganda, law and administration, theory and tactics of proletarian revolution, trade union organization, and problems of socialist construction, among others.
- Chapter 1. 1963–2008: History, Microhistory, Metahistory, Ethnography
- » (Speaking of Method)
My identity as a “native anthropologist” in this context and these encounters is no less slippery and no more fixed. I belong to the “Left” but not to the “aristocracy” of the Left. I do not come from a family that has sprung from the long history of the Leftist movement in Greece; no one in my family ever held any position of importance within the movement; our family name is not recognizable as a “Leftist” one. There are other families, families that have experienced the constant persecution of the state from the beginning of the Left movement, families whose members had been sent to Moscow to study at the KUTV (derogatorily named Koutvides by the Greek Special Security); there are other families that saw three generations of their members imprisoned simultaneously, and yet other families who have intermarried within the Party. In that sense my “nativeness” becomes frustrated. Indeed, members of my family have been imprisoned, have been sentenced to death, many more have voted for the Party, but the family as a whole has been Centrist. That certainly has not sheltered the family from suspicion, but it has created an added level of complication, both of what we understand as “native anthropology” and what we generally understand as fixed political ascriptions. This frustrated identity, however, would have a greater importance had this been a project on the self-identification of the “Left” or had the history of the Left not organized the experience of modern Greek history in its entirety. As there cannot be an examination or an understanding of modern Greek history outside the context of the relationship between the modern Greek state and the Greek “Left,” there cannot be a space within that history where one can claim that the “Left” is not part of her or his particular, personal, and perhaps even private history. In that sense, this claim of “nativeness” becomes necessarily both expanded and constricted.
In many ways, conscious and unconscious, this research started a long time ago, maybe when I first started thinking about the question of the Left, about who is a Leftist, who is this creature who, as I was growing up, was constantly on the run, persecuted, hunted down, and, after I had grown up and the Left was made legal again, claimed a piece of the national fantasy, demanded to be included in the national imaginary, finally setting the terms of the debate by collapsing story and history into a narrative that could not separate the one from the other. But it is research that has other starting points and locations, or debates and disagreements that came up within the Left, which constantly tried to determine, for different reasons and through different rationales, who was a dissident, what it is to be a Marxist, who or what can claim to be the true Left (with or without quotation marks). In this sense, this work traces not only the processes by which the “dangerous” are constituted as such but also the ways in which one is delineated and identified as a Leftist, a process that is inevitably tautological and homological.