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Faculty of Humanities

Stephen Hutchings

Communication and conflict with Stephen Hutchings

Professor of Russian Studies, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

A child of the Cold War, Stephen Hutchings was beguiled by the fog of conflict and miscommunication that engulfed the Soviet Union, which even now fascinates him as Putin’s Russia continues to confound.

“I’m interested in going beyond the rhetoric of demonisation, and trying to understand the unspoken dynamics that are driving conflict,” he said.

The allure of a good espionage story has threaded its way through Stephen’s career - from finding his way through the streets of Moscow as a student with only books and cigarettes as currency, to being detained for questioning under the suspicion of being a British spy – and his excitement has not faded over the decades.

Deep knowledge of a language and of its historical and cultural context of usage can bring us not just to an understanding of the roots of conflict but also to its potential resolution.

Stephen Hutchings / Professor of Russian Studies

“Deep knowledge of a language and of its historical and cultural context of usage can bring us not just to an understanding of the roots of conflict but also to its potential resolution.”

A comprehensive school kid, Stephen found himself at university surrounded by affluent over-achievers, so threw himself into his studies to keep up. He credits his resourcefulness, imagination and enthusiasm for collaboration for his long and illustrious academic career and believes the Humanities at Manchester are known for their interdisciplinary dynamism and for bringing all sorts of academics together.

“This is why you collaborate – to use your talents and skills to complement one another,” he said. “Working collaboratively has transformed both the way I do research and the quality of that research, precisely because it requires compromises and resolving tensions. And it is engaging with these tensions that I find stimulating.”