National Identities in Soviet Historiography
Building Nations under Stalin
By Harun Yilmaz
Routledge – 2013 – 256 pages
Series: Central Asia Research Forum
This book explains how and by whom Soviet national histories were constructed under Stalin’s rule. It focuses on the crucial episode in the construction of national identities of Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan from 1936 and 1953, when the main theses in the national histories were established.
A unique comparative study of three different case studies, this book reveals different aims and methods of nation construction, despite the existence of one-party rule and a single overarching official ideology. The study is based on work in the often overlooked archives in the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. By looking at different examples within the Soviet context, the author contributes to and often challenges current scholarship on Soviet nationality policies and Stalinist nation-building projects. He also brings a new viewpoint to the debate on whether the Soviet period was a project of developmentalist modernization or merely a renewed ‘Russian empire’. The book concludes that the local agents in the countries concerned had a sincere belief in socialism—especially as a project of modernism and development—and, at the same time, were strongly attached to their national identities. The book will be of interest to historians and political scientists interested in the history of the Soviet Union and contemporary Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
1. Waiting for the Enemy: The Rise of National Narratives after 1936 2. Return of Heroes: National Heroes are Re-Constructed 3. Multiple Fatherlands: National Narratives in War Propaganda 4. Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: National Narratives or Class Consciousness? 5. Comparative Conclusions
Harun Yilmaz is a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, US.