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Tomorrow, Tuesday 17 February, from 4:20pm to 6:00 pm, in room 6.519

the SHSS Seminar Series will host a paper in History:

Dr Zbigniew Wojnowski (Asst Professor of History, Nazarbayev University)

will intervene on:

“The USSR as an Imagined Non-Community: Political Indifference in Post-Stalinist Kazakhstan”


Khrushchev’s Secret Speech about Stalinist crimes in February evoked heated public responses in many parts of the USSR. In stark contrast, the momentous changes of 1956 evoked little controversy among inhabitants of Soviet Kazakhstan. Political indifference in Kazakhstan came in two guises, both of which were underpinned by the idea of the USSR as an imagined non-community. On one level, the Soviet Union and Soviet Kazakhstan were imagined non-communities in the sense that some citizens discussed and rejected official, state-sponsored identities. Citizens did not discuss the past and future of the Soviet community because they did not believe that community was real. At the same time, however, political indifference signified reluctance to discuss the costs of totalitarian and authoritarian rule. The Soviet Union and Soviet Kazakhstan were imagined non-communities in that residents effectively distanced themselves from any kind of collective responsibility for the agonies of Stalinism, or even membership in society shaped by Stalinism, by echoing Stalinist-era narratives that emphasised divisions and conflicts in Soviet society. This conclusion challenges dominant narratives of de-Stalinization in the USSR. Whereas de-Stalinization has mostly been studied without regard for geographical diversity, the dynamics of de-Stalinization differed across the boundaries between Soviet republics.

Everybody is invited to attend.

The event is open to the public.

Attendees who do not hold Nazarbayev University ID cards should come with official ID and be prepared to register on entry to the university.