Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

E.H. Carr as Nationalities Scholar

Sat1  Apr04:00pm(15 mins)
Main Building Room 132


Timothy Blauvelt1; Jeremy Smith2
1 American Councils / Ilia State University, Georgia;  2 Zayed University, United Arab Emirates


Cold War-era Western historiography of the Soviet Union is often criticized for its top-down view from the center, while only superficially dealing with the diverse nationalities of the Soviet periphery and the policies of the state and party towards them. This ambivalence would later appear as a particular failing of the field given the central role that the nationalities and nationalism seemed to play in the way that the USSR dissolved. While it has some validity, this critique underestimates some of the major contributions of the period. The works of E.H. Carr in particular bely the stereotype: although he never published a specific treatise on the “national question” in the USSR, attention to the periphery and the challenges that the competing dynamics of simultaneously maintaining unity and encouraging diversity presented to the early Soviet regime permeate his 14-volume History of Soviet Russia and are directly addressed in a number of his other works; his insights on the topic, though sometimes not uncontroversial, would serve as a touchstone for future generations of scholars. Based on a critical analysis of Carr’s publications, as well as the notes and correspondence in the E.H. Carr Papers collection, this paper reassesses Carr’s views and contributions to the study of Soviet nationalities and the “national question.”