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Matthew J. PayneAssociate Professor

Matthew J. Payne, Associate Professor (B.A., University of Chicago, 1981; M.A., 1988; Ph.D., 1995); modern Russian and Soviet history; Soviet social history; Kazakhstan and Soviet nationalities policy; labor and society, popular racism and the politics of famine. Recent publications include: Stalin's Railroad: Turksib and Building Socialism (2001); "The Making of a Kazakh Proletariat?: The Unexpected Russification of Nativization Policies on the Turksib," in Ronald Suny and Terry Martin, eds., A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-Making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin (2001); and "The Movie Turksib and Soviet Orientalism," The Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television, Vol. 21, Number 1 (March 2001).

I am very much concerned with the intersection of the Soviet state's modernization drive with class, gender and ethnicity on the Soviet periphery, particularly the Kazakh steppe. All these issues were central to my research on the building of a "hero-project" during Stalin's industrialization drive, the Turksib railway. That research has served as a springboard for a more ambitious study Soviet Steppe: Modernization and Genocide in Kazakhstan, 1916 to 1941. I have begun field work on this project, which examines the Soviet state's forced settlement of Kazakh nomads and the resulting chaos and near genocidal tragedy these policies engendered. I have concentrated in my teaching on Russian and Soviet themes, but hope to move much more explicitly into modern Central Asian history to complement my research interests.


  • BA, University of Chicago, 1985.
  • MA, University of Chicago, 1988.
  • PhD, University of Chicago, 1995.


  • Modern Russian and Soviet history

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