How Ukrainian is the "Ukrainian Chapaev?": Aleksandr Dovzhenko's Shchors and Stalin's Nationality Policy

Elena Monastireva-Ansdell, Oberlin College

Stalin's 1935 commission of Dovzhenko to make a "Ukrainian Chapaev" and his personal guidance over the Ukrainian filmmaker attest to the importance the Soviet leader ascribed to the question of nationality at that time. In Shchors, a film set during the Ukrainian Civil War, Dovzhenko provides an historical legitimization for the new direction in Stalin's nationality policy. Making use of George Liber's analysis of Soviet nationality policies and identity change in the Ukrainian SSR in 1923–1934, this paper examines how Dovzhenko's film reflects the radical shift from the Party's policy of active ukrainianization in the 1920s to accusations of Ukrainian nationalism in the early 1930s and the subsequent turn to russification of the non-Russian nationalities.