When I think of Claudia Pieralli, who was both a colleague and a dear friend, I think above all of her desire to understand and to question.  Her interests in the discipline of Slavic studies ranged from folklore to theatre, to concentration camp literature, to Soviet dissent. For Claudia studying was akin to living and this came across in every meeting and in every conversation she engaged in.  Her innate thirst for knowledge and understanding led her to constantly debate with herself and with others on every topic she encountered. Claudia could not take anything for granted and felt the necessity to pin down every detail in every research project she contributed to. She was equally conscientious in her teaching, guiding students with an eloquence that encouraged discussion and active participation.  She had the courage to challenge her own intuitions, admit her own doubts and consider the beliefs of others with an open mind in order to gain deeper understanding and greater insight. Claudia listened attentively to the opinions of colleagues and students, but she did not shy from heated and critical confrontation because, for Claudia, truth could not depend on the certainties of others.

I was fortunate enough to collaborate over many years with Claudia, a collaboration that culminated in the international research portal “Free Voices in the USSR”.  This open access site is in large part a continuation and development of Claudia’s initial study on Cultures of Dissent. She was passionate about the project, which, as well as disseminating knowledge, has the declared aim of involving young scholars and colleagues. We will continue to work on the project and will always be grateful to Claudia for setting it in motion.

Marco Sabbatini
8th October 2023