image of book cover

Intermarriage and the Friendship of Peoples is the first book to examine ethnic and racial mixing in the Soviet Union.  In marked contrast to its Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union celebrated mixed marriages among its diverse ethnic groups as a sign of the unbreakable friendship of peoples and the imminent emergence of a single “Soviet people.”  Yet the official Soviet view of ethnic nationality became increasingly primordial and even racialized beginning in the 1960s, and in this context, I argue, mixed families and individuals found it impossible to transcend ethnicity, fully embrace their complex identities, and become simply “Soviet.”  Looking back on their lives in the Soviet Union, ethnically mixed people often reported that the “official” nationality in their identity documents did not match their subjective feelings of identity; that they were unable to speak “their own” native language; and that their ambiguous physical appearance prevented them from claiming the nationality with which they most identified.  In all these ways, mixed couples and families were acutely and painfully affected by the growth of ethnic primordialism and by the tensions between the national and supranational projects in the Soviet Union. The book’s conclusions are based on more than eighty in-depth oral history interviews with members of mixed families in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, along with published and unpublished Soviet documents, scholarly and popular articles from the Soviet press, memoirs and films, and interviews with Soviet-era sociologists and ethnographers.

Prof. Edgar's book is the co-winner of the 2023 Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies. This prize is awarded annually by the Association for the Study of Nationalities for an outstanding book published in the previous calendar year on Russia, Eastern Europe or Eurasia (including the Balkans, Central Europe, the Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Central Asia, the Caucasus, Turkey, Afghanistan, and China) in which substantial attention is paid to questions of ethnicity and/or nationalism. Also, the Association for Women in Slavic Studies has awarded Intermarriage and the Friendship of Peoples the 2023 Heldt Prize for best book introducing new, innovative, and/or underrepresented perspectives into any area of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian studies.



Related Videos

Watch Adrienne Edgar lecture on Intermarriage and the Friendship of Peoples at Kansas University's Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Center (CREES) in April 2023.

Related Podcasts

Audio file

Listen to Adrienne Edgar on the podcast The Eurasian Knot discussing mixed marriages in the USSR in September 2022. 

Audio file

Listen to Adrienne Edgar in conversation with Luca Anceschi (Professor of Eurasian Studies, University of Glasgow) about ethnic mixing in Soviet Central Asia on the New Books Network Podcast in August 2022.