Imagining Minorities as Nations in the 1920s

Vera Tolz

in Russia's Own Orient

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199594443
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725067 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Modern European History

Imagining Minorities as Nations in the 1920s

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Looks at patterns of nation-building in Siberia, Transcaucasia, and Central Asia in the first decade of Bolshevik rule. The chapter demonstrates that the Revolution propelled to the top political positions in the newly created Soviet ethnic regions those minority representatives who had been cooperating with the imperial Orientologists before 1917. Together these two groups placed Islam and Buddhism, as well as the study of ancient histories, at the centre of nation-building projects which the Bolshevik government pursued in the borderlands. Thus, through various local initiatives, former imperial scholars and their local associates introduced elements into the Soviet project of national construction that were at odds with the goals and assumptions of Bolshevik officials in Moscow. It is these differences, rather than attitudes toward Marxism and socialism, as is usually assumed, that, above all, caused many of the former imperial scholars and their local associates to part ways with the Soviet regime by the late 1920s.

Keywords: Soviet nationality policies; creation of local elites; ethnic minorities; centre-periphery relations

Chapter.  16486 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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