Empire and Nationalism in Russia and the Soviet Union

Course Description: 

The course will address the mechanisms of imperial growth and patterns of imperial rule, with special focus on managing cultural, linguistic and religious diversity. We shall mechanisms of transfer from indirect to direct rule and vice versa, mechanisms of nationalization of imperial politics, strategies of acculturation, assimilation and building national identities.  Special attention will be paid to the Western borderlands of the Empire. The course also addresses the role of inter-imperial relations and transfers in nationality politics. We shall look at the role of the WWI in mobilization of nationalism in the borderlands, and at the elements of continuity and rupture between the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. While looking at the Soviet period we shall focus on the role of ethnicity and nationalism in the early 20’s, politics of korenizatsia and the role of national factors in Stalinist “big leap” of 1930’s.

Learning Outcomes: 

This course aims at: - providing students with knowledge of the most important recent literature on nationalism in Russian and Soviet imperial contexts; - developing critical understanding of key analytical concepts (empire, direct and indirect rule, borderland, nationalism, national and non-national identifications, systems of interaction, etc.) and of most important methodological approaches (situational approach, comparative approach, history of transfers and “entangled histories” perspective) - developing student’s skills in presentation of their research (using conference format for class presentations) - developing student’s skills in discussing conflicting methodological approaches. In order to achieve these objectives course combines lectures, which introduce factual material and methodological approaches, with seminars. Seminars include discussion of the most important literature, student presentations of case studies (20 min.), and short (10 min.) presentations of position papers, based on analysis of particular books and articles


Requirements - class work, presentation(s) and final paper. Assessment: 20% - class work (seminar discussion, questions and comments during the lectures). 40% - presentation (s). One presentation (up to 20 min) resembles conference presentations. When possible, topics are assigned in relation to student’s MA project or other research interests (to be fixed in discussion between a student and the instructor). Not only contents, but also form of presentation is evaluated. Second – brief (up to 10 min.) critical evaluation of 1-2 articles, related to the topic of a particular class, which shows the ability to grasp most important theoretical argument and to evaluate it critically. 40% - Final paper – usually the revised version of the main presentation. The topic is subject to change based on agreement with the instructor. Important is the ability to reflect upon the seminar discussion of the initial presentation and the ability to incorporate new theoretical and factual material from the course into the final text.