After a decade of vigorous borrowing from the Soviet Union—advisers, factories, school textbooks, urban plans—Albania’s party clique switched allegiance to China during the 1960s Sino-Soviet conflict, seeing in Mao’s patronage an opportunity to keep Stalinism alive. Author Elidor Mëhilli shows how socialism created a shared transnational material and mental culture—still evident today around Eurasia—but it failed to generate political unity. Combining an analysis of ideology with a sharp sense of geopolitics, he brings into view Fascist Italy’s involvement in Albania, then explores the country’s Eastern bloc entanglements, the profound fascination with the Soviets, and the contradictions of the dramatic anti-Soviet turn. Mëhilli’s fresh perspective on the Soviet-Chinese battle for the soul of revolution in the global Cold War also illuminates the paradoxes of state planning in the twentieth century.
Elidor Mëhilli is Assistant Professor in the History Department at Hunter College, City University of New York. He received a PhD from Princeton University and held research fellowships at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute and at the University of Pennsylvania’s Humanities Forum. Additionally, he has been a visiting fellow at the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung (Potsdam), at Birkbeck College (London), and with the Workshop on Authoritarian Regimes at the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
Michael David-Fox (commentator) is a historian of modern Russia and the Soviet Union and professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. After completing his A.B. at Princeton and his Ph.D. at Yale, David-Fox was a Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute and taught at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is Founding and Executive Editor of the scholarly journal Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, for which he was awarded the 2010 Distinguished Editor Award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. David-Fox has been a Humboldt Fellow in Berlin, a visiting professor at EHESS in Paris, a Davis Fellow at Princeton, a Fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences, and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum. He holds an honorary professorship from Samara State University in Russia.
Charles Kraus (moderator) is Program Associate & Program Lead, History and Public Policy Program