Crop of poster Pod voditel'stvom velikogo Stalina

Authoritarianism and Democratic Breakdown


Workshop participants will use collections held at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives to study the operation of non-democratic states to understand why they came into being, how they work, and the sources of their durability or fragility. Other studies will include the factors that can corrode democratic states.

The workshop's principal resources are the unique and fast-growing holdings at Hoover. Founded by Herbert Hoover in 1919, the Hoover Institution Library & Archives hold one of the world's largest and richest private collections of material on authoritarianism in Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America and more.

According to Freedom House, nearly half of the countries of the world are "unfree."  The number of unfree and especially “partly free” states has been growing globally, which makes their study an urgent matter. To be sure, such countries vary widely in their makeup and institutions, from autocratic Russia and the Iranian theocracy and Gulf states to communist rule in China and the North Korean dynastic dictatorship.  But together they present major puzzles for scholars and policy makers.  In that pursuit, the Hoover Institution Workshop on Authoritarianism and Democratic Breakdown is led by Norman M. Naimark, Hoover senior fellow and Paul R. Gregory, Hoover research fellow.  Participants include advanced graduate students and early career faculty.

The workshop is open to all disciplines and geographic regions.  Since its founding in 2003 by Paul Gregory, the workshop has brought together more than a hundred scholars from a dozen countries, working on Russia/Soviet Union, China, and other authoritarian regimes. The workshop's output consists of numerous books and articles written by its participants, including scholarly monographs published or forthcoming in the Stanford-Hoover Series on Authoritarianism, the Yale-Hoover Series on Authoritarian Regimes, books at the Hoover Press and other publishers, and articles in scholarly journals, including the Hoover Digest.

Authoritarianism Workshop poster collage
1) Stalin vedet nas k pobede, Poster RU/SU 2156, Hoover Institution Library & Archives. 2) Long live the People's Republic of China," a portrait of Mao Tse-tung, Poster CC 27, Hoover Institution Library & Archives. 3) Image courtesy of Iraq Memory Foundation. Read more from Mission to Baghdad.


Workshop Participants 2022

2022 Workshop Authoritarianism group photo

2024 Summer Workshop

The Hoover Institution Library & Archives Workshop on Authoritarianism and Democratic Breakdown Summer 2024 will be held at Stanford University on August 12–23, 2024. Please contact Merinell Loring with any questions or for information on the application process.

Application Requirements

Applicants should include a proposal (no more than 1,000 words), a resumé, and one letter of reference to the application form. The proposal should identify collections the applicant wishes to study.  

Applicants are encouraged to review some of the featured collections here and read about previous workshops to learn more about the research topics and approaches that are suited to the workshop.


Submit an Application

Featured Collections

Previous Workshop participants have worked productively in a number of featured collections from the Library & Archives. Many participants have discovered valuable collections, whose existence they had not been aware of. The following are archives that have proven valuable for projects:

Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Records of the Lithuanian section of the Soviet KGB

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty collection

Records of the Chinese KMT Party

Archive of the Chief Administration of Labor Camps (GULAG) of the Soviet Union

Ba'th Party papers from the Iraq Memory Foundation Collection

Chiang diaries


Learn More
Portrait of Paul Gregory

Paul Gregory

Research Fellow
Learn More
Portrait of Norman Naimark

Norman M. Naimark

Senior Fellow
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