Oleksa Drachewych

- Assistant Professor

image of Oleksa DrachewychPhD, McMaster University, 2017
Telephone:  519-661-2111 ext. 88552
Email: odrachew@uwo.ca
Office: 2233
Office Hours: Winter Term: Tuesdays 11:45 a.m - 1:45 p.m via appointment

Research Interests

Professor Drachewych’s research interests focus on the history of Soviet and Modern European foreign policy, international communism, transnational human and civil rights movements, and transnational anti-imperialism. He also serves as the network editor for H-Russia where he edits several blog series, including "Decolonizing Russian Studies."

Professor Drachewych has Teaching/Advisory Membership in the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Although he cannot serve as a primary supervisor for any graduate work, he can serve in other capacities.

Major Research Projects 

1. The Soviet Past and the Russian Present: How the Second World War and its Aftermath Inspires Russia Today

Based on his article in The Conversation, this project draws on the history of Soviet atrocities during and after the Second World War in Eastern Europe and discusses how the echoes of these events and policies are found today in Russian atrocities in Russia's War in Ukraine. As the memory of the Second World War looms large in Russian nationalism today, this book will suggest that these parallels reflect how the Russians may be inspired by Soviet policies and efforts in their actions today. This book is under contract with University of Toronto Press.

2. Soviet Communism and Human and Civil Rights

This project surveys the influence of the Bolshevik Revolution and its ideals on the development of human and civil rights movements across the world in the twentieth century. The Bolshevik Revolution proved to be an influential moment for many people, owed to its perceived emphasis on peace, internationalism, egalitarianism, anti-imperialism, anti-fascism and racial equality. Despite promoting such values and drawing many people into the movement, the Soviet Union failed to practice these values internally, instead committing atrocities and violating human rights within its borders. As news of these horrors came to light, many communists remained influenced by the ideals of the Bolshevik Revolution, while condemning the Soviet Union, and became prominent figures in civil rights, human rights, and colonial liberation movements in the twentieth century. This project outlines how the Soviet Union’s communist ideals influenced these progressive movements while, paradoxically, the Soviet regime failed to adhere to these values within its borders. This project is under contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press.

3. Totalitarianism in the 20th Century: A Global History

This project will focus on writing a textbook on the subject of totalitarianism that focuses on the entirety of the twentieth century and takes a global approach, moving away from Eurocentric textbooks on the subject. This textbook will also question the concept of totalitarianism as an analytical paradigm, including discussion of its use in politics from the interwar period to the present. Each chapter will take a critical approach of a regime or government which has been defined as totalitarian. With this textbook, students will understand how the totalitarian paradigm developed in historical analysis, why certain regimes have been defined as totalitarian, and what strengths and limitations the approach has. Ultimately, the goal of the textbook, along with explaining how and why these regimes developed and operated, will be to encourage students to think critically about how to analyze certain regimes, while introducing undergraduates to foundational questions in historical research and historiography.

4. The Documents of the Communist International and the National, Colonial & Racial Questions.

In an effort to encourage more comparative and transnational histories of interwar international communism, this project aims to provide the definitive starting point for study on the Communist International and its efforts to promote colonial liberation, national self-determination and racial equality in the interwar period. This document collection will make resolutions and debates from communist parties around the world available in English for the first time. This project is under contract with Historical Materialism, an imprint of Brill.

Selected Publications 



Co-edited with Ian McKay. Left Transnationalism: The Communist International and the National, Colonial, and Racial Questions. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020.


book cover of communist international
The Communist International, Anti-Imperialism and Racial Equality in British Dominions. London: Routledge, 2018. (Paperback, 2020)


Refereed Book Chapters

“The Bolsheviks’ Revolutionary International: The Idea and Establishment of the Communist International, 1914-1922,” Russian International Relations in War and Revolution, 1914-22, Book 2: Revolution and Civil War, edited by David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Oleg Budnitskii, Michael Hughes & David MacLaren McDonald (Bloomington: Slavica Publishers, 2021), 317-340.

w/ Ian McKay, “Transnational Leftism? The Communist International, the National, Colonial and Racial Questions, and the Strengths and Limitations of the ‘Moscow Rules’ Paradigm,” Left Transnationalism: The Communist International and the National, Colonial and Racial Questions, edited by Oleksa Drachewych and Ian McKay (Kingston & Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020), 3-49.

“Race, the Comintern and Communist Parties in British Dominions, 1920-1943,” Left Transnationalism: The Communist International and the National, Colonial and Racial Questions, edited by Oleksa Drachewych and Ian McKay (Kingston & Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020), 247-269.

“Conclusion: Future Avenues for the Study of the Comintern and the National, Colonial and Racial Questions,” Left Transnationalism: The Communist International and the National, Colonial and Racial Questions, edited by Oleksa Drachewych and Ian McKay (Kingston & Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020), 407-411.

“Settler Colonialism and the Communist International,” Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism, Second Edition, edited by Immanuel Ness and Zak Cope (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

Refereed Articles

“Broadening the Native Republic Thesis: De-siloing Comintern Histories,” Twentieth Century Communism 24 (2023): 110-131.

“Great Disappointment, Shifting Opportunities: A Glimpse into the Comintern, Western European Parties and their Colonial Work in the Third Period,” Twentieth Century Communism 18 (Spring 2020): 150-173.

w/ Daniel Edmonds & Evan Smith, "Editorial: Transnational communism and anti-colonialism," Twentieth Century Communism 18 (Spring 2020): 5-13.

“The Communist Transnational? Transnational Studies and the History of the Comintern,” History Compass 17, no. 2 (Feb. 2019).

Other Publications

Professor Drachewych has also authored book reviews in Russian Review, Ab Imperio, Canadian Slavonic Papers, Europe-Asia Studies, Revolutionary Russia, and elsewhere.