Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships , Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships

Project

‘From Nomadism to Socialism’: Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Famine, 1921-1934

Project

The Hungry Steppe: Soviet Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Famine, 1921-1934

‘From Nomadism to Socialism’: Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Famine, 1921-1934

In a tragedy largely forgotten by history, more than a million and a half of Kazakhstan’s inhabitants perished in a famine of terrifying proportions, a disaster which reached its apex from 1931-1933. This dissertation assembles a narrative account of the Kazakh famine, reconstructing, first, the key political choices that were the prelude to the disaster; second, the mechanics of the famine itself, or how and why hunger came to engulf the republic; and, third, the resolution of the crisis, or how Soviet officials restored order to an embattled land. Relying on Russian, as well as Kazakh-language archival sources, this dissertation interrogates how and why the Kazakh famine developed, as well as the disaster’s impact on Kazakh societies.

The Hungry Steppe: Soviet Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Famine, 1921-1934

Largely forgotten by history, the Kazakh famine of the 1930s led to the death of more than a million and a half people, a quarter of Kazakhstan’s population. The burden of this suffering, however, fell disproportionately on one of the republic’s ethnic groups, Kazakhs. My project, an original narrative account of this disaster, provides answers to the causes and consequences of the Kazakh catastrophe itself, as well as revisions to historians’ broader accounting of the massive upswing in state-driven modernization and violence that transformed the Soviet Union in the late 1920s and 1930s. Engaging with genocide studies and agrarian studies, the study contributes to scholars’ understanding of pastoral nomads, as well as the role of ideology and human agency in famines and other crises.