Creating a Tatar Capital: National, Cultural, and Linguistic Space in Kazan, 1920-1941 Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Guadagnolo, Gary
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation examines the introduction and implementation of Soviet nationalities policies among Russians and Tatars in the city of Kazan, an important cultural, educational, and industrial capital in the heart of Soviet Russia. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the creation of the Tatar Republic in 1920, Kazan functioned as a laboratory in which Party-state authorities experimented with incorporating national minorities into the new socialist society under construction. Soviet nationalities policies allowed Tatars to pursue educational, political, and social opportunities denied them under the tsarist regime. Initiatives such as korenizatsiia (indigenization) and the “Realization of the Tatar Language” sought to bring national minorities into the mainstream of Soviet life by recruiting and training them to work in local Party-state apparatuses, industrial enterprises, and academic institutions. Supporting native cadres would make Soviet power seem indigenous, rather than something imposed by a new form of Russian colonialism. While these endeavors constantly ran into various roadblocks, over time they did attain some success in promoting indigenous minorities into positions of authority within the local Party-state apparatus, giving them an active role in shaping their own system of rule. Speaking to the fields of nationalities studies and urban history, this dissertation shows how residents of Kazan navigated ethnolinguistic differences and political changes in the physical and cultural spaces around them in order to create their own sense of belonging within a new kind of city, a Tatar capital whose public spaces reflected its diverse population. The first three chapters analyze the education, training, and employment of Tatars in schools, universities, and factories. The last three chapters discuss the evolution of Tatar culture, namely its expression in theater, architecture, and public festivals, as a product of I. V. Stalin’s famous dictum that Soviet minorities’ culture be “national in form and socialist in content.” Ultimately, I argue that urban space mediated how residents experienced, articulated, and responded to Soviet nationalities policies, leading to a new understanding of the place and purpose of Tatars and their traditions in Kazan.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • McReynolds, Louise
  • Raleigh, Donald
  • Bryant, Chad
  • Tasar, Eren
  • Pennybacker, Susan
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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