Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a body of scholarship arose which effectively bypassed Miroslav Hroch’s work on the emergence of small nations. Rogers Brubaker, Yuri Slezkine and Ronald Suny, among others, persuasively argued that Soviet nationalities policies shaped the ethnogeographic make-up of the post-Soviet space some sixty or seventy years later: it had become literally almost unimaginable to conceive of national affiliation outside of institutionalized forms. This analysis also convincingly accounted for the relative weakness of ethnic Russian identity in contrast to the assertive nationalism of non-Russian nationalities around the time of the USSR’s collapse. The Kuban’ Cossacks – an ethnocultural community in the south of Russia – never had official recognition as a Soviet nationality. Hroch’s framework can be applied to show their clearly national characteristics and, indeed, their progress towards nationhood around the turn of the twentieth century. By reclaiming Hroch’s framework for the post-Soviet context, and combining it with later scholarship, we are able to identify this process for the first time, and thus further refine our understanding of the nation-formation processes within Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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