Consequences of an Idea: Assessing 100 Years of Communism

September 25, 2018
Communism event poster

Carlos Eire, T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University; Sergiu Klainerman, Higgins Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University; Flagg Taylor, Associate Professor of Political Science, Skidmore College. Moderated by Marzenna James, Lecturer in Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

Carlos Eire was born in Havana in 1950 and fled to the United States without his parents at the age of eleven. After living in a series of foster homes for three years, he was reunited with his mother in Chicago, but his father was never allowed to leave Cuba. He is now the T. L. Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, where he has served as chair of the Department of Religious Studies and the Renaissance Studies Program. He has taught at St. John’s University in Minnesota and the University of Virginia, has been a Fulbright scholar in Spain, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a member of the Lilly Foundation’s Seminar in Lived Theology. He is the author of several scholarly books, including War Against the Idols (1986), From Madrid to Purgatory (1995), A Very Brief History of Eternity (2009), and Reformations: The Early Modern World (2016), which won the Hawkins Award from the Association of American Publishers. A past president of the American Society for Reformation Research, he is best known outside scholarly circles as the author of the memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana (2003), which won the nonfiction National Book Award, and his second memoir, Learning to Die in Miami (2010). All of his books are banned in Cuba, where he has been proclaimed an enemy of the state – a distinction he regards as the highest of all honors. Professor Eire received his B.A. from Loyola University, Chicago, and his M.A., M. Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

Sergiu Klainerman, Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, immigrated to the United States from communist Romania. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of United States National Academy of Sciences, and a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. Professor Klainerman is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and various prizes in Mathematics, including the Bôcher Memorial Prize, awarded by the American Mathematical Society in 1999 for his contributions to nonlinear hyperbolic equations. He serves as Editor of Annals of Mathematics. Professor Klainerman holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Bucharest and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from New York University. 

F. Flagg Taylor, 2018-19 James Madison Program Visiting Fellow, is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Honors Forum at Skidmore College. His teaching includes courses on the history of political philosophy, totalitarianism and dissent, and executive power and constitutional law. Professor Taylor is co-author of The Contested Removal Power, 1789-2010 (a Choice Outstanding Academic Book) and editor of The Long Night of the Watchman: Essays by Václav Benda, 1977-1989Totalitarianism on Screen: The Art and Politics of The Lives of Others (with Carl Eric Scott), and The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism. He is currently writing a book on the theory and practice of Czechoslovak dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s. Taylor is a member of the Academic Council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and lectures often on totalitarianism and dissent. He is a frequent guest on the American Cinema Foundation movie podcast. A graduate of Kenyon College, he received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Fordham University.

Marzenna James is Lecturer in Public and International Affairs in the Politics Department and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Her research interests include theories of economic power; asymmetrical power relations; international political economy; European and international security; Central European and Russian foreign policies; qualitative and historical methods. She is the author of articles and book chapters at the intersection of international relations, comparative politics, and economics. She has published on current affairs in Project Syndicate. She is currently working on a book on the political uses of foreign economic relations in Soviet-satellite relations and in today’s conflict in Ukraine. She holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and B.A. from Dickinson College. Prior to her studies in political science, she was a student of Polish and English Philology at Copernicus University, Toruń, and Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland.  


Consequences of an Idea: Assessing 100 Years of Communism


Lewis Library 120

Cosponsored by:

  • The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

Photo Album:

  • Marzenna James
  • Audience at the Consequences of an Idea event
  • Carlos Eire