Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
This thesis traces a complex discourse of the self in the early Soviet era, navigating the identities both assumed by and ascribed to Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev (1892-1940), a Volga Tatar and at one time the highest-ranking Muslim in the Communist Party. After the Bolshevik Revolution, Sultan-Galiev balanced a number of influences, most particularly his Tatar nationality, his Muslim culture and faith, and his belief in the objectives of a socialist revolution. Sultan-Galiev strayed too far from ideological orthodoxy, though, which led to his 1923 arrest. Rather than trying to determine Sultan-Galiev's guilt, I assess his attempts to assert his innocence and the consequences of his failure to do so. Drawing on the field of Soviet subjectivities, I analyze the role of narrative in both the defense and vilification of Sultan-Galiev. This was more than just a conflict over policy; it delineated the power of a Soviet subject over his own story.