Intellectual Commissars: Indoctrination in Communist Higher Education

The institutionalization of indoctrination and associated mechanisms of political control and social monitoring are a recurring phenomenon in history. One of the strongest and most extreme forms of the phenomenon was associated with Communist regimes. Indoctrination institutions and strategies in higher education and schools were crucial for these political systems and regimes. The education system, in general, and universities, in particular, were among the strategic priorities of such regimes. Understanding the Communist cases gives us a comparative benchmark and reference point for the comparative analysis of this phenomenon in other systems and political circumstances, as well as a distinctive in-depth perspective on the nature of this type of political systems and their governance mechanisms. The project will explore the cases of Soviet bloc institutionalization of indoctrination in education systems, with a special focus on higher education and the “political-ideological commissar” function, seen as a key element in the institutional architecture of such institutionalization processes.