Politics of Nationalism in the Republic of Sakha (northeastern Siberia) 1900-2000

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A critical examination of the concept of Natsionalizm, a social phenomenon used by the Soviet Union to crack down on dissent towards the Soviet State. Unlike Nationalism, this new concept was a force used to suppress thought, particularly in Sakha, a Siberian Republic in Northeastern Russia.


“This is a fine study of a fascinating but little-known region is an important book … for all who seek to understand the negotiation of power.” – Prof. Piers Vitebsky, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge

“… takes the reader on a disturbing and highly evocative journey through space and time, telling a story which is situated in Soviet history but has far wider implications for our understanding of history, memory and silence, and the way these are both formed by the power of the state and undermine its legitimacy.” – Prof Francis Pine, Goldsmiths University of London

"[This book is an] excellent interpretive history. ... She has done us an enormous service by putting Sakha history into contemporary perspective." -- Prof. Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer, Georgetown University

Table of Contents


Chapter 1

The Republic of Sakha

Political History

Taatta Ulus

Soviet Understandings of Natsionalizm


Chapter 2: Political Movements (1900s-1930s)

Political Climate

Intelligentsia and Elite

Political Unions of Sakha Intelligentsia


Natsionalizm as a Principle of Inclusion and Exclusion

Natsionalizm as a Form of Witchcraft

Chapter 3: Cultural Movements (1900s-1930s). Taatta as Rural Heartland

Proletarian Aesthetics

Traditions of Olonkho

Cultural Societies

Natsionalizm as an Expression of Xenophobia

Punishment Continued. Basharin and His Book on the Writers

Chapter 4: Drunken Fight in a Taatta Village, 1954

Drunken Fight


Natsionalizm as a Rationale for Scapegoating

Natsionalizm as an Expression of Paranoia

Chapter 5: Hostilities on Friendship Square, Yakutsk, 1986

Fight on the Skating-Rink

Industrial Development

Demographic Situation

No Friendship on Friendship Square

Instigated Event?

Natsionalist Slant Punishment

Natsionalizm as Constructed Deviance

Chapter 6: Taatta Revisted

Breaking the Vicious Circle

Breaking the Silence

Taatta Rehabilitation

The KGB’s Apologies

Dmitrii Kusturov

My Father


Chapter 7: Conclusion

Natsionalizm as a Smokescreen

‘The Perfect Member of Society’ or ‘Is There Immunity from Natsionalizm?

Nationalism and Natsionalizm

Appendix 1: Decree on Renaming Alekseevski Raion as Tattinski

Appendix 2: Decree of the Presidium on Renaming Alekseevski Raion as Taattinski

Appendix 3: Resolution of the Supreme Soviet on Taatta’s Rehabilitation



Other Russia & Russian (+ Soviet Union): All Subjects Books