HAPPY HOLIDAYS & HAPPY NEW YEAR! Our Next Program is on Thursday, January 17: Sarah Cameron, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, Department of History, will speak on “The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan.”

“The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan.”

Date:  Thursday, January 17, 2018

Time:  Membership Social at 7:30 p.m.  Program at 8:00 p.m.



Access: Open to the public and free for members, students and accompanying family members, educators, and active military and their dependents. $10.00 charge for non-members.


Professor Sarah Cameron

Speaker’s Biography and Abstract for the talk:

Professor Sarah Cameron is a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union.  Her research interests include genocide and crimes against humanity, environmental history, and the societies and cultures of Central Asia.

Her first book, The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan (Cornell University Press, 2018), examines one of the most heinous 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 experience of the famine scarred the republic for the remainder of the Soviet era and shaped its transformation into an independent nation in 1991.

The book uses the case study of the Kazakh famine to overturn several assumptions about violence, modernization, and nation-making under Stalin, highlighting, in particular, the creation of a new Kazakh national identity, and how environmental factors shaped Soviet development.  Ultimately, The Hungry Steppe depicts the Soviet regime and its disastrous policies in a new and unusual 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.

At present, she is at work on a new book-length project on the Aral Sea basin.

Sponsor of this Program – Levy Jewelers

As a fourth-generation family business, Levy Jewelers is a trusted part of our community. Their commitment to excellence in customer service while providing an exceptional buying experience for each individual reflects their passion for both the products they sell and the people they serve.

The Savannah Council on World Affairs is grateful to Levy Jewelers for its support.


There will be a brief annual meeting prior to the program on January 17, 2019, consisting of reports of the President and Treasurer and the election by the membership of new directors from the ballot offered by the Nominating Committee.  Independent nominations may be made by the membership.

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Thursday, February 21: Paul B. Stares, from the Council on Foreign Relations, will present: Preventive Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace” 

Thursday, March 21: Ambassador Wendy Ruth Sherman, from Harvard’s Kennedy School, will present “Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power and Persistence”

Thursday, April 25: Christopher Bolan, U.S. Army War College, Professor of Middle East Security Studies. Topic: “US Strategy in the Middle East: Confronting an Uncertain Future”

Thursday, May 9: Michael Oxman, Managing Director, Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business; Professor of the Practice, Sustainable Business, Georgia Institute of Technology. Topic: “Sustainability”.