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History – Nationality in Imperial and Soviet Russia


Admission requirements

BA degree


A state of nations is what the Russian Empire as well as the Soviet Union really amounted to. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 this fact has become more widely acknowledged among historians and other scholars. As a result, a new focus for research has been developed. After decades of Eurocentric and Russocentric exclusion, historians have ventured into the non-Russian peripheries and examined the diverse interactions between groups and regions within a Eurasian framework. By way of comparative analysis, it is the interplay between state politics, social developments and national identities in the multinational empire of Russia and the Soviet Union, which forms the core topic of this research seminar. How did state and nations relate to one another?

Course objectives

Knowledge of political institutions, social change and national-cultural identities in modern Russian and Soviet history, insight into the historiographical innovations and controversies in this field, understanding of the key-concepts of state, nation and multinationality in an Eurasian perspective, research abilities by means of (translated) primary and secondary sources, abilities of presentation and discussion of findings in an expert peer group, writing of an extensive scholarly research report.


This course is also a research seminar in the Master of History.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar.

Assessment method

  • Essay questions (introductory test)

  • Oral presentations (2)

  • Short discussion papers (2)

  • Research report of circa 5000 words


Yes, see Blackboard

Reading list

Ronald G. Suny and Terry Martin eds., A State of Nations. Empire and Nation-making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin (Paperback Oxford UP; Oxford and New York 2001) ISBN 095144236.


Students should register through uSis

Contact information

With the docent, by e-mail Dr. J.H.C.Kern


The seminar is a one term course which exists of twelve meetings of two hours. The seminar is divided into three parts, to begin with a general introduction of several weeks in the recent historiography and working towards a set of central research questions, next come several weeks of personal case-studies in sources on specific nationalities, to end with a round table session of one day for reaching comparative conclusions on the basis of the individually written research reports.