Sarah Cameron
Assistant Professor

Professor Sarah Cameron is a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, with a particular research interest in the societies and cultures of Central Asia.  

Her book, The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan, forthcoming with Cornell University Press in fall 2018, examines one of the most heinous and poorly understood crimes of the Stalinist regime, the Kazakh famine of 1930-33.  As part of a radical social engineering scheme, Josef Stalin sought to settle the Kazakh nomads and force them into collective farms. More than 1.5 million people perished as a result, a quarter of Soviet Kazakhstan’s population, and the crisis transformed a territory the size of continental Europe.

Drawing upon a wide range of sources in Russian and in Kazakh, the book brings this largely unknown story to light, revealing its devastating consequences for Kazakh society. It finds that through the most violent means the Kazakh famine created Soviet Kazakhstan and forged a new Kazakh national identity.   But the nature of this transformation was uneven.  Neither Kazakhstan nor Kazakhs themselves became integrated into the Soviet system in precisely the ways that Moscow had originally hoped.  The scars from the famine would haunt the republic throughout the remainder of the Soviet era and shape its transformation into independent nation in 1991.

Along the way, the book uses the case study of the Kazakh famine to overturn several assumptions about violence, modernization and nation-making under Stalin.  Seen from the angle of the Soviet east, a region that to date has not received as much scholarly attention as the Soviet Union’s west, the regime and the disastrous results of its policies appear in a new light.  

Dr. Cameron has held fellowships at the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, Germany, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  Her research has been supported by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Mellon/The American Council for Learned Societies, Fulbright and others.  She received her PhD from Yale University, where her dissertation won the John Addison Porter Prize for the best dissertation in the Arts and Sciences and the Turner Prize for the most outstanding dissertation in European History.

Office Hours: 
Monday: 3:30 PM-4:00 PM
Wednesday: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Taliaferro Hall