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date: 09 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the changing approaches adopted after the October Revolution towards Russia’s ethnic minority populations alongside efforts to construct a shared Russian or Soviet national identity within what remained a culturally diffuse land empire. Politicians and historians have produced multiple narratives of the collapse of the Romanov empire. The initial history of the Bolsheviks stressed the role of the national movements against ‘the prison of nations’ alongside the proletarian struggle against ‘the weakest link’ of imperialism. In the 1930s, the Stalin-edited ‘Short Course of the History of the Communist Party’ marginalized national movements’ roles in favour of class struggle, while post-communist national historiographies did the opposite. Recently, the growing literature on the First World War places the conflict itself at the centre of the story of imperial collapse and demonstrates how multiple factors, produced by the conditions of war, undermined empire and strengthened the ethnic and social anti-imperial movements.

Keywords: Russia, Romanov Empire, decolonization, war, revolution, Bolsheviks, imperialism, violence

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