Project Summary

My book foregrounds the post-World War Two politics and practices of suppressing non-titular minority communities in the Soviet Union, and the personal and political consequences of such efforts. Soviet nationality policy frequently has been invoked to explain ethnically framed violence surrounding the dissolution of the USSR, but scholars have failed to grapple with the specificities of minority life after the 1930s. This gap has resulted in ahistorical analyses of minority movements across the (former) USSR. I develop three minority community studies--the Talysh, Lezgin, and Georgian-lngilo--and follow them from Azerbaijan to Georgia, Dagestan, and Iran in pursuit of the politics, cultures, and communities that were layered across internal and international borders. What were the mechanisms of cultural and identity production in communities subjected to assimilationist politics? How did separatist movements coalesce among Talysh and Lezgin activists? And, finally, how does this historicization help us to understand the tenuous space occupied by minorities in nationalizing states across Eurasia?

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