Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finally somebody agrees with me

I just noticed a 2012 MA dissertation at Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands by M.A.C. Sprangers. The dissertation is titled Difference and Power: Nationalities Policies, Racist Practices and Ethnic Cleansing in the Soviet Union, 1917-1953. Sprangers has just entered a very small and extremely marginalized group of scholars so he or she has their work cut out for them. But, regardless I welcome Sprangers with open arms into the tiny circle of scholars of the USSR who believe that Stalin actually did engage in racial discrimination. There are only a handful of us and we are spread out over a couple of different continents. Francine Hirsch completely dominates the field in the US. At any rate for everybody else I have reproduced the abstract of the dissertation from the library at the Universiteit Utrecht below.

This thesis primarily uses the work of historian George M. Fredrickson to argue that historians can and should speak of racism in the Soviet Union under Stalin. This is despite the fact that official Soviet discourse rejected the ideology of race, and the fact that most contemporary historians shy away from the terms 'race' and 'racism' in the writing on Soviet nationalities policies and Soviet ethnic cleansing. The thesis consists of - a summary of the historiographical discussion; - a conceptualization of what defines 'ethnicity', 'nationality', 'race' and 'racism' ; - a look at the official Soviet attitude towards (among others) the ideology of race and ideas of nationality, citizenship and the state socialist project; - Soviet nationalities policies in practice with regards to nationalities, focusing on the Stalinist period; it argues that nationalities were treated on cultural grounds as if they were (biological) races - a more detailed look on Soviet ethnic cleansing, and the racial elements that these entailed - and lastly, it considers scholarly reluctance on speaking of racism in the Soviet Union. 

If you do happen upon this Sprangers, I would love to read a copy of your dissertation. Send me an e-mail at j.ottopohl [the at sign] gmail [the dot] com. Maybe we can arrange for you to speak at one of the history department seminars here at the University of Ghana, Legon.

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