Dr Zbigniew Wojnowski

Dr Zbigniew Wojnowski

Profile picture of Zbigniew Wojnowski
Associate Professor in Soviet History
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I am a historian of Ukraine, Russia, and Central Asia. I obtained my PhD from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at UCL in 2011. Before joining Oxford in 2022, I spent several years working at Nazarbayev University in Astana and the University of Roehampton in London.

My research has focused on interethnic relations and imperial dynamics in the USSR. My book entitled The Near Abroad: Socialist Eastern Europe and Soviet Patriotism in Ukraine examines how the flow of people and ideas across borders shaped Ukrainian and Soviet identities after the death of Stalin. I have also published on identity politics in Crimea, the role of popular culture in the Ukrainian national project, and the impact of de-Stalinisation in the USSR’s Central Asian peripheries.

My current work seeks to extend the study of Soviet identity politics into the 1980s and the 1990s, as well as to better integrate Soviet Central Asia into histories of late socialism and the Cold War. I am writing a book which examines the collapse of the USSR and the advent of capitalism in the region through the prism of Soviet and post-Soviet show business., This project analyses how economic reform transformed approaches to entrepreneurship, patterns of cultural consumption, and the limits of permissible expression in the late Soviet and early post-Soviet periods. I am also working on the environmental history of Kazakhstan in the late twentieth century.

I would be keen to supervise research students working on any aspect of the history of non-Russian republics of the USSR, the history of systemic transformation in the USSR and its successor states in the late twentieth century, and the role of the USSR in the Cold War.

Research Disciplines: History 

Research Keywords: Cold War, the Soviet bloc, systemic transformation, popular music

Countries/Regions: Ukraine, Kazakhstan, USSR, Central Asia, East-Central Europe



Selected Publications: 


  • The Near Abroad: Socialist Ukraine and the Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe, 1956-85 (University of Toronto Press, 2017)

Other Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • ‘The Lives and Afterlives of a Soviet Misfit: Volodymyr Ivasiuk, the Emotional Crisis of Late Socialism, and the anti-Soviet Turn in Ukrainian Popular Culture’, Contemporary European History (published online March 2022, awaiting issue allocation)
  • ‘The Pop Industry from Stagnation to Perestroika: How Music Professionals Embraced Economic Reform that Broke East European Cultural Networks’, The Journal of Modern History 92:2 (2020), pp. 311-350.
  • ‘Soviet Identity Politics in Ukrainian Crimea: Friendship of the Peoples and Internal Borders in the USSR between the 1950s and the 1980s’, Acta Slavica Iaponica 40 (2020), pp.125-48.
  • ‘Impact of the Prague Spring in the USSR’ in Kevin McDermott and Matthew Stibbe (eds), Eastern Europe in 1968: Responses to the Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact Invasion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp.71-96.
  • ‘De-Stalinisation and the Failure of Soviet Identity Building in Kazakhstan’, The Journal of Contemporary History 52:4 (2017), pp.999-1021.
  • Guest edited and authored introduction for a special section of Nationalities Papers entitled ‘The Soviet People: National and Supranational Identities in the USSR after 1945’, Nationalities Papers 43:1 (2015), pp.1-7.
  • ‘An Unlikely Bulwark of Sovietness: Cross-Border Travel and the Soviet People in Western Ukraine, 1950s-1980s’, Nationalities Papers 43:1 (2015), pp.82-101.
  • ‘Staging Patriotism: Popular Responses to Solidarność in Soviet Ukraine, 1980-81’, Slavic Review 71:4 (2012), pp.824-48. 
  • ‘De-Stalinisation and Soviet Patriotism: Ukrainian Reactions to East European Unrest in 1956’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 13:4 (2012), pp.799-829.

Other Publications

  • ‘Moscow’s Divide and Rule’, History Today 72:4 (April 2022)
  • ‘Putin’s “History” of Ukraine Has an All-Too Soviet Legacy’, www.opendemocracy.net (February 2022)
  • Book review of The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution by Marci Shore, The Journal of Modern History 93:1 (2021)
  • ‘The Market Decides? A Short History of Ukrainian Pop Music’, www.opendemocracy.net (April 2019)
  • ‘The East European “1968” and Its Legacies’, blog entry for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, co-authored with Matthew Stibbe (August 2018)
  • Book review of Club Red: Vacation Travel and the Soviet Dream by Diane Koenker, The Journal of Contemporary History 51:4 (2016)
  • ‘Whose Crimea is it anyway?’, www.opendemocracy.net (April 2014) [also available in Russian translation]
  • ‘Economic tensions worsen unrest in eastern Ukraine’, Al Jazeera America (25 March 2014) [also available in Turkish translation]
  • ‘“We are in for a shock”: Teaching Soviet History at Nazarbayev University’, NewsNet (August 2013)
  •  ‘Postcard from Astana’, The World Today 69:3 (April 2013)