Stephan Rindlisbacher: Territorialising the Soviet State
Territorialising the Soviet State, 1918-1936
Nation, identity and territoriality are key for understanding the Soviet state and its collapse. This project analyses the territorial formation of the Soviet republics in a comparative perspective. The existing Russo-Ukrainian border as well as the other borders between the union-republics are a product of territorialisation processes in the 1920s and early 1930s. Based on archival documents, I can outline that their creation was not a means to divide and rule the population along national lines, but rather a strategy to manage the diversity of the Soviet space. The Bolshevik government perceived nation, territoriality and identity as tools in a process of social transformation towards socialism. However, today the remnants of this national policy determine the territorial conflicts not only between Ukraine and Russia but also between Armenia and Azerbaijan or Uzbekistan and Kirgizstan.
Stephan Rindlisbacher has acquired a mobility grant by the Swiss National Science Foundation from December 2016 to September 2019. Hence, he recently started his research first in Moscow and then in Kiev and Tbilisi. In winter and spring 2018 he will be a fellow at the Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS) in Regensburg. Prior to this, he worked as teaching assistant at the Historical Department of the University of Bern, but he also taught Russian language at the Gymnasium in Biel. He wrote his PhD on the pre-revolutionary Russian radical movement, focusing on the biographies of two women: Vera Zasulich and Vera Figner. This thesis was published in 2014 under the title Leben für die Sache. Vera Figner, Vera Zasulič und das radikale Milieu im späten Zarenreich [Living for the cause. Vera Figner, Vera Zasulich and the radical milieu in the late Tsarist Empire]. He studied modern history, Slavic as well as Islamic studies. He was educated across the European continent at the Universities of Berne, Zagreb and the State University of St. Petersburg. In his current project, he focuses on the question of how the national territories in the early Soviet state were established and regulated. However, he is also interested in the history of terrorism, transnational political networks, political commemoratory culture as well as in the history of Russian and Soviet paper-money. He speaks German, English, French, Russian, Serbo-Croatian (basics) and Arabic (basics) and understands Ukrainian (basics), Polish (basics) and Italian (basics).