Cultural Diversity and the Interwar Conjuncture: Soviet Nationality Policy in Its Comparative Context

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Soviet nationality policy was one of several political responses to cultural diversity in the interwar period. The author situates that policy in its comparative context, contrasting the Soviet Union to its eastern European neighbors and to British and French rule in Africa. Contrary to the nationalizing policies of the new states of eastern Europe, which sought national unity at the expense of ethnic minorities, Soviet nationality policy was initially based on practices of diff erentiation. Contrary to the colonial policies of Britain and France, which were based on ethnic and racial diff erentiation, Soviet policy sought to integrate all peoples into one state. In the mid-to-late 1930s, however, Soviet policy took a nationalizing turn similar to its neighbors in eastern Europe, without completely abandoning policies of ethnic diff erentiation. We should thus understand the Soviet approach as a unique hybrid of contradictory practices of nationalization and diff erentiation.

About the authors

Peter A. Blitstein

Lawrence University

Author for correspondence.
711 E Boldt Way, Appleton, WI 54911 USA

PhD in History, AssociateProfessor of History at the Department of History


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