The Constitution of 1936 and Stalin's Turn to Mass Repressions

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Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Thursday, March 21, 20194:00PM - 6:00PM108N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
M5S 3K7
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Russian History Speakers Series


In her presentation, Prof. Velikanova discusses a new element in the historical picture explaining why politics shifted to mass repressions in 1937. Besides Stalin’s protracted conflict with regional party/state clans and the inflammatory role of new NKVD head Nikolai Yezhov, the dictator’s conceptualization of popular commentaries on the constitution and the results of the 1937 census could reverse his views on society and the hope that ordinary Soviets were sufficiently Sovietized. Together with international developments in the fall of 1936 that heightened Stalin’s fear of war, popular discussion of the constitution can provide the missing piece in the puzzle for why relative moderation ended and repressions expanded from former oppositionists to the officials and finally to the wider population.

Olga Velikanova is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Texas and a former alumna of CERES. She obtained her PhD from Saint Petersburg State university. She specializes in Soviet popular opinion studies and works extensively with declassified Communist party and secret police archives. She is author of five books discussing Soviet social mobilization campaigns and popular perceptions of Soviet politics and of Lenin’s image involving historical, anthropological and political culture methods. Her last book, Mass Political Culture under Stalinism: Popular Discussion of the Soviet Constitution of 1936 (Palgrave 2018) is the first full-length study of Stalin’s Constitution, exploring the government’s goals and Soviet citizens’ views of constitutional democratic principles and their problematic relationship with the reality of Stalinism.


Olga Velikanova
University of North Texas

Main Sponsor

Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies


Department of History

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