Botakoz Kassymbekova

Dr. Botakoz Kassymbekova

Bereichsassistentin Neuere/Osteuropäische Geschichte (Departement Geschichte)


Hirschgässlein 21
4051 Basel

Botakoz Kassymbekova


Dr. Botakoz Kassymbekova is a Lecturer/Assistant Professor in Modern History with a specialization in Soviet history, Stalinism, post-Stalinism and Russian imperial history.

She holds a Ph.D. from the Humboldt Universität Berlin, a M.A. from the University of Essex and a B.A. from the American University of Central Asia. She held post-doctoral positions at the Technical University Berlin and the John Moores Liverpool University.

Her first book “Despite Cultures. Early Soviet Rule in Tajikistan” (Pittsburgh University Press, 2016) traces Soviet imperial strategies in Central Asia. She is a guest editor of the “Stalinism and Central Asia” volume of the Central Asian Survey (2016). Her current research project investigates the post-Stalinist Soviet Union and analyzes how Soviet citizens (un)processed Stalinism in their later lives.

Another book project titled “Imperial Innocence” is a cultural history of Soviet imperialism under contract with the Cambridge University Press in co-authorship with Kimberly St. Julien-Varnon, University of Pennsylvania.

Botakoz Kassymbekova co-convened the online exhibition “Soviet Central Asia in 100 Objects” together with professor Alexander Morrison (Oxford) and Edmund Herzig (Oxford)  at the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Centre in 2021.

News und Medien

“Imperiale Unschuld als Identität und Methode: Opferkult und Kolonialismus der Russländischen Föderation,”Totalitarianism and Democracy (Article in German), (2024).

"Альтернативне до імперії історіописання найзручніше проголосити націоналізмом" (Interview in Ukrainian),

"Бути хорошою людиною та бути 'хорошим русским'" (Interview in Ukrainian), Suspil'ne Kul'tura

"'Невинність' імперії" (Interview in Ukrainian), Dwutgodnik

"Bekennst du dich nicht bedingungslos, bist du antirussisch" (Interview in German), Swissinfo

"The Road to Democracy in Russia Runs Through Chechnya" (Argument), Foreign Policy

"Warum viele Deutsche Russlandversteher sind und die Russen im Krieg still halten" (Interview in German), Berliner Zeitung

"Europe’s last empire: Putin’s Ukraine war exposes Russia’s imperial identity", Atlantic Council

"How Western scholars overlooked Russian imperialism" (Argument), Al Jazeera

“Quoi qu’en dise Vladimir Poutine, la Russie n’est pas moins prédatrice en Afrique que les puissances coloniales de naguère” (Interview in French), Le Monde

“Das Herrschervolk regiert noch in den Köpfen“ (with Annette Werberger), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Time to Question Russia’s Imperial Innocence” (with Erica Marat), PONARS Eurasia

“On Russia’s Imperial Myth” (Interview),The Diplomat

“De Bichkek à Kazan, un douloureux réveil postcolonial“ (Interview in French), Mediapart

“Nie ma destalinizacji bez dekolonizacji/ There will be no destalinization without decolonization“ (in Polish), Kultura Liberalna

“The End of Russia’s Imperial Innocence” (with Marlene Laurelle), Russia.Post

Books and volumes

Imperial Innocence (with Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon) under contract with Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)

Despite Cultures: Early Soviet Rule in Tajikistan, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016

  • Short-listed for the Central Eurasian Studies Society 2017 book award
  • Reviewed in The American Historical Review, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Slavic Review, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, The Russian Review,Ab Imperio, SovLab, Central Asian Survey, Europe-Asia Studies, RECEO: Revue d’études comparatives Est-Ouest, and H-Soz-Kult

Guest Editor, Stalinism and Central Asia: Actors, Projects and Governance, Central Asian Survey, Vol. 36 (4) 2016.

(with Sherali Roziev) Mukkadima ba nazariiai avrupoii bun’iodi davlati millii [Nation-State Building: European Perspectives], Dushanbe: Irfon, 2011.

Journal Publications

“Imperiale Unschuld als Identität und Methode: Opferkult und Kolonialismus der Russländischen Föderation,” Totalitarianism and Democracy (preprint), (2024).

(with Aminat Chokobaeva) “Expropriation, Assimilation, Elimination: Understanding Soviet Settler Colonialism,” South/South Dialogues (2023).

“On Writing Soviet History of Central Asia. Frameworks, Challenges, Prospects.” Central Asian Survey 40, no. 4 (2021).

“Exotic Bodies in Soviet Culture: Caucasus, Empire and Revolutionary Old Age”, The Russian Review. Online Essay Series devoted to the 30th anniversary of the Soviet demise, December 2021.

“Drinking for the Revolution in Stalinabad Alcohol, Soviet Empire and Discipline at the Festive Table,” Historische Anthropologie [Historical Anthropology] 28, no. 2 (2020).

“Understanding Stalinism in, from and of Central Asia: Beyond Failure, Peripherality, and Otherness.” Central Asian Survey 36, no. 4 (2016).

“Humans as Territory. Forced Resettlement and the Making of Soviet Tajikistan, 1920-1938.” Central Asian Survey 30, no.3-4 (2011).

“Helpless Imperialists. European State Workers in Soviet Central Asia in the 1920s and 1930s.” Central Asian Survey 30, no. 1 (2011).

“Memories of the Riots in Chimkent (Kazakh SSR) and Frunze (Kirghiz SSR) in 1967.” Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung XIII, no. 20 (2007).

Vom Geist der Gesetze in Zentralasien.WeltTrends 31 (Summer 2001).

Chapters in Edited Volumes                                                            

“Age and the City. Accommodating Older Persons in Soviet Urban Design in the1970s and 1980s.” In Geriatrics and Ageing in the Soviet Union: Medical, Political, and Social Contexts, edited by Susan Grant and Isaac Scarborough. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2022.

“Gender Dimensions of Soviet Industrialization in Central Asia,” In Central Asia: Contexts for Understanding, edited by David Montgomery. Pittsburgh University Press, 2022.

“How Did the Russian Elite Discuss Southern Resort Leisure During the Fin de Siècle: Nice or Crimea?” In Band‚ Elites and Leisure. Arenas of Encounter 1815-1914, edited by Martin Kohlrausch. Oldenbourg: de Gruyter, 2020.

“New Temples: Restaurants as Places of Modern Urbanity in Russia’s Fin-de-Siècle.” In Urban Microcosms 1789-1940, edited by Margit Dirscherl und Astrid Köhler. London: University of London Press, 2019.

“Leisure and Politics: Soviet Central Asian Tourists Across the Iron Curtain.” In Socialist and Post-Socialist Mobilities, edited by Kathy Burell. London: Paper McMillan, 2014.

(with Christian Teichmann) “The Red Man’s Burden. Soviet European Officials in Central Asia in the 1920s and 1930s.” In Helpless Imperialists. Imperial Failure, Fear and Radicalization, edited by Maurus Reinkowski, & Gregor Thum.Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012.

“Hapless Imperialists. European State Workers in Soviet Central Asia in the 1920s and 1930s.” In The Transformation of Tajikistan, edited by John Heathershaw. London: Routledge, 2012.

“Capital Punishment in Kyrgyzstan. Between the Past, ‘Other’ State Killings and Social Demands.” In The Cultural Lives of Capital Punishment: Comparative Perspectives, edited by Austin Sarat, & Christian Boulanger.Stanford University Press, 2005.