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Ideologies of Race in Russia

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Is the concept of “race” applicable to Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union? Citing Russian exceptionalism, many would argue while nationalities mattered, race did not. Others counter that race mattered no less in Russia than it did in Europe and other nations. Either way, controversies over the meaning of race in Russia have made it difficult to understand recent racial tensions in the region. So, what are some ways to think about race in Russia, and how does it compare with race in other historical and geographical contexts. I asked David Rainbow to provide some insight into the ideologies of race in Russia and the Soviet Union.


David Rainbow is an instructional assistant professor of history in the Honors College at the University of Houston. He’s the editor of Ideologies of Race: Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union in Global Context published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.


The Specials, “Racist Friend,” The Best of the Specials, 2008.