Catherine Gousseff

Catherine Gousseff is historian, tenured researcher at the CNRS (French National Center for Research), member of the Institute for Russian, East-european and Asian studies (CERCEC) at the EHESS (School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) in Paris.

After completing her PhD in 1996 at the EHESS on the russian refugees in Europe and in France during the interwar period (L’exil russe. La Fabrique du réfugié apatride 1920-1939, Paris, CNRS eds., 2008), she  dedicated most of her works on constraint, forced migrations from and within the Soviet Union and East-European countries in the XX century (deportations, evacuations of population during the World Wars, repatriations of prisoners of war, populations transfers). In the course of these works she focused among others on soviet administrative practices dealing with identity. Her last main work was dedicated to the polish-ukrainian populations exchange in the process of making the new polish-soviet borders at the end of WWII (Echanger les peuples. Le déplacement des minorités aux confins polono-soviétiques, 1944-1947, Paris Fayard, 2015).

Research project: Sovietizing the New West : Silesia and Eastern Galicia under Socialist rule

In the aftermath of Word War II, all Central and Eastern Europe became part of the socialist Bloc and subjected to the domination of Soviet power. Together with the new political order, the territory of Poland was translated about 200 km westward. The former “Kresy” (Eastern Polish territories, presently belonging to Western Ukraine, Western Bielorussia, and the region of Vilnius) were integrated into the western republics of the Soviet Union, while the German regions of Silesia and Pomerania were attributed to the newly restored Polish State. These changes produced, on the Western edge of respectively Poland and Soviet Union, frontier regions widely open to colonization by nationals. 

Focusing on two specific subregions — the then newly polonized Silesia and its capital Wrocław on one hand, on the other hand Eastern Galicia (and L’viv) that was integrated into the Ukrainian socialist Republic—, this research project aims to question the process of nationalizing new territories in the socialist/soviet-ruled context. What common features and what distinguishing trends appeared during the process of making these regions part of Socialist Poland and Soviet Ukraine? To what extend can we compare the policies of the People’s Democratic Republic of Poland and of Ukraine as part of the Soviet Empire?

Dates of stay: 01 October 2018 - 31 July 2019