Alun Thomas

Senior Lecturer

School of Justice, Security and Sustainability

I joined Staffordshire University in September 2017. Before this, I worked as a Tutor and Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Leicester, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham.

My research to date has concerned the modern history of Russia and Central Asia. I began my doctoral studies in September 2011, funded by a full AHRC studentship. My doctoral thesis, ‘Kazakh Nomads and the New Soviet State, 1919-1934’ described the treatment of nomadic peoples by the Communist Party in the early Soviet period. It built upon original research in archives in Almaty, Kazakhstan and Moscow, Russia. The thesis is reviewed here.

My first book emerged from my doctoral research and included further archival research in Bishek, Kyrgyzstan. Nomads and Soviet Rule: Central Asia under Lenin and Stalin was awarded the Alexander Nove Prize for scholarly work of high quality in Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet studies by BASEES for the year 2018.

I continue to work on early Soviet history in Central Eurasia and beyond. My present research also concerns contemporary Central Eurasia and its post-Soviet transition.

Professional memberships and activities

Member of the British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES)

Member of the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS)

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Dr Thomas is co-editor of the ‘Peripheral Histories’ digital history project:

Academic qualifications

PhD, The University of Sheffield, 2015
MA Modern History, The University of Sheffield, 2011
BA (Hons) Russian and Politics, The University of Sheffield, 2009

Research interests

  • The history of Russia and the Soviet Union
  • The history of Central Eurasia
  • Imperialism; colonialism; decolonisation
  • Refugeedom; itinerance; nomadism
  • Nationalism; state-building; urbanisation
  • Memory; patrimonialisation
  • Contemporary Central Asian Affairs


Global Life Stories (Level 4, 15 credits)
Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia (Levels 5 and 6, 30 credits)
Nomads and Nation-States: Central Asia since 1700 (Levels 5 and 6, 15 credits)
Gender History and Sexual Politics (Levels 5 and 6, 15 credits)
International History since 1900 (MoD Top-Up, Distance Learning)
Concepts in International History (MA, Distance Learning)
Dissertation supervisor at UG and PG level

I also lead on Area Studies teaching in the university’s partnership with the Ministry of Defence.


An Empire Remembered? Collectivization and Colonialism in Mukhamet Shayakhmetov’s 'TheSilent Steppe' in Dirk Göttsche (ed.), Memory and Postcolonial Studies: Synergies and New Directions across Literatures from Europe, Africa and the Americas (Peter Lang, 2018).

Nomads and Soviet Rule: Central Asia from Lenin to Stalin (I.B. Tauris, 2018).

‘The Caspian Disputes: Nationalism and Nomadism in Early Soviet Central Asia’, The Russian Review 76:3 (2017), pp. 502-525.

‘On Guard at BAMlag: Representations of Guards in the 1930s Gulag Press’, The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review, 4:11 (2014), pp. 3-32.

Top 15 for Teaching Quality

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

6th for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Midlands University of the Year

Midlands Business Awards 2020