History Department
History Department

Andrew Straw

M.A. Stanford, B.A. The University of Texas at Austin



Soviet nationalities policy, Central Asia, Islam, the Soviet welfare state, international relations and human rights.


Education: MA Stanford University in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies; B.A. University of Texas at Austin, History.


HIS 362G • Islam In Russia & The Ussr

39147 • Spring 2018
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CMA 3.108
(also listed as ISL 372, REE 335)

This course will examine how Russian and Soviet policy in Muslim regions was (or was not) essential in creating the current socio-economic landscape. The idea for this course comes from my belief that there is a general misunderstanding of the demographic and social/political composition of today’s Russian Federation and former Soviet states. This course begins with the early imperial expansion of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great into non-Slavic regions and continues to today’s Russian Federation. The readings and discussion will trace how the governments in Moscow and St. Petersburg conquered and governed non-Russian peoples, and the history of non-Slavs both resisting and participating in Russian and Soviet rule. The driving theme of the course will be the sheer diversity and challenges that both Russians and conquered peoples faced in finding a stable balance between imperial ambitions and local demands. Moreover, this course will highlight the similarities of governance that began in the Russian empire and continue in today’s Russian Federation.

In particular, this course will focus on three regions on the Southern periphery of Russian control, Crimea, the Caucuses and what is today Uzbekistan. The course will begin with readings from For Prophet and Tsar by Robert Crews and The Russian Empire by Andreas Kappeler to establish how the Russian Empire incorporated Muslim peoples into the imperial structure. Next the readings and lecture will turn to some specific examples in each of the following regions, with readings from Adeeb Khalid, Edward Lazzerini, Nicholas Breyfogle, Charles King and other scholars. Afterwards, the class will read Yuri Slezkin’s seminal article on Soviet nationalities policy, as well as excerpts from Terry Martin’s Affirmative Action Empire and Francine Hirsh’s Empire of Nations and multiple works by Ronald Suny. The rest of the course will draw upon a host of studies covering the three areas through World War II, late Soviet socialism, Soviet collapse to the present. My lecture will also incorporate literature, photography and artwork.

Grades for the course will be partly based on weekly paragraphs reviewing the readings and primary sources, as well as a mid-term exam. The final project will be a research paper that compares either Russian imperial or Soviet policy in one specific region to the current situation, politics and conflicts of the region.



40% - Final Paper

30% - Midterm Exam

20% - Reading Reviews

10% - Class Participation/Attendance


Primary Texts:

Crews, Robert D. For Prophet and Tsar: Islam and Empire in Russia and Central Asia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006.

Hirsch, Francine. Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University, 2005.

Kappeler, Andreas. The Russian Empire. Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2001.

Suny, Ronald. The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution and the Collapse of the Soviet Union. Standord: Stanford University Press, 1993.


Additional excerpts from:

Breyfogle, Nicholas B. Heretics and Colonizers: Forging Russia’s Empire in the South Caucasus. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005.

King, Charles. The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Khalid, Adeeb. The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998.

Lazzerini, Edward J. “Ismail Bey Gasprinskii (Gaspirali): The Discourse of Modernism and the Russians in in Edward A. Allworth, (ed.). The Tatars of Crimea: Return to the Homeland. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.

Martin, Terry. The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.

Naimark, Norman M. Stalin’s Genocides. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. Pleshakov, Constantine. The Crimean Nexus: Putin’s War and the Clash of Civilizations.

Yale University Press, 2017.
Slezkine, Yuri. “The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State

Promoted Ethnic Particularism,” Slavic Review, no. 2 (Summer 1994).

Stronski, Paul. Tashkent: Forging of a Soviet City 1930-1966. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010.

Subtelny, Orest. Ukraine: A History (Fourth Edition). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

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