James Heinzen is a specialist in the history of the Soviet Union, about which he has written widely. He received his B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Heinzen's research interests include Stalinism, the late Soviet decades, the history of crime and corruption, and the cultural history of Russia. He is the author of The Art of the Bribe: Corruption, Politics, and Everyday Life in the time of Stalin, which is forthcoming from Yale University Press. His first book was Inventing a Soviet Countryside: State Power and the Transformation of Rural Russia, 1917-1929 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004).


Project Summary

Practices of official corruption, in part inherited from the Soviet era, have continued to touch nearly every sphere of Russian life since the collapse of the USSR. The project explores the phenomenon in the Khrushchev and Brezhnev periods (1950s-1980s), It will argue that by the Khrushchev years, corruption was already an integral part of an unofficial yet essential series of relationships upon which much of Soviet society relied in order to function. Indeed, bribery could be considered the quintessential crime of late socialism.The new project extends the study from the unsuccessful reforms of Khrushchev to the mid-1980s. The book will explore the gradual transition to an environment in which the party increasingly tolerated corruption, which honeycombed the system and, ultimately, contributed to its implosion. The book will highlight a key paradox: corruption both helped the Soviet system function and, simultaneously, undermined it. The fight against corruption (then as now) was highly politicized and selective. Such unofficial, criminal relationships continue to be a ubiquitous phenomenon in the Russian state and in everyday life in “Putin’s kleptocracy," of course, though in different forms.


Major Publications

BOOK: The Art of the Bribe: Corruption under Stalin, 1943-1953 (book forthcoming with Yale University Press)

“Corruption among Officials and Anticorruption Drives in the USSR, 1945-1964” in Don K. Rowney and Eugene Huskey, eds, Russian Bureaucracy and the State: Officialdom from Alexander III to Vladimir Putin (Macmillan, 2009), 169-188.

“Informers and the State under Late Stalinism: Informant Networks and Crimes against ‘Socialist Property,’1940-1953.” Kritika: Explorations in Russian History, vol. 8, no. 4, 789-815.

Previous Terms

Jul 01, 2003 - Aug 01, 2003: "Corruption, Bribery, and Economic Crime in the USSR, 1945-60" Aug 01, 1997 - Aug 01, 1997: "To Reorganize the Peasant Completely: Culture, Modernization, and the Vision of Socialism in Rural Russia, 1917 - 1929" The Soviet revolutionary regime'’s attempt to change the way the Russian peasantry thought, worked and engaged in politics in the decade before the bloody forced collectivization drive Stalinist transformation of rural Russia among an important group of culture brokers, the agricultural specialists economic transformation; Bolshevism in Soviet society; peasantry. Sep 01, 1992 - Sep 01, 1992: "Party State, and the Transformation of the Russian Countryside, 1920 – 1930" The Russian Communist Party and the governmental apparatus it created to carry out social and economic transformation after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 processes and personnel within the bureaucracy though which the state attempted to implement drastic changes in the peasant economy, concentrating on the work and cadres of an important economic agency, the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture reform; civilian administration.