Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Another Post on Soviet Racism

The number of US scholars who believe that there was ever any institutionalized racial discrimination in the USSR against anybody except Jews is extremely small. The official orthodox position is that because natsional'nost is a different word than race that there was never any racial components what so ever to Soviet treatment of people like the Russian-Germans, Chechens, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, or Russian-Koreans. However, I recently found one of the very few admissions of the existence of  racism against people other than Jews in the USSR by a US scholar in the last quarter century.

But, the practices of old Russia obviously did not disappear overnight. The Russian-Ukrainian national experiences did not embrace racism and genocide on the British, Spanish, or American model, but discrimination directed against minority peoples - Tatars and other orientals, Turkic peoples, Jews - stained the record of the East Slavs, and black visitors inevitably felt its blows. Because the communists usually suppressed news of racial incidents, however, we have little information on the subject.
Obviously the racism of Tsarist Russia continued in the USSR and became institutionalized in the form of the internal passport and definition of natsional'nost solely along lines of biological descent. This point about the racialization of Soviet categories has been noted by Russian anthropologist Marina Mogil'ner and vehemently denied by US scholars seeking to defend the Soviet dictatorship under Stalin from the charge of racial discrimination.

Source: Woodford McClellen, "Africans and Black American in the Comintern Schools, 1925-1934," The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2 (1993), p. 376.

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