Cultural backwardness (Russian: культурная отсталость) was a term used by Soviet politicians and ethnographers. There were at one point officially 97 "culturally backward" nationalities in the Soviet Union. Members of a "culturally backward" nationality were eligible for preferential treatment in university admissions. In 1934 the Central Executive Committee declared that the term should no longer be used, however preferential treatment for certain minorities and the promotion of local nationals in the party structure through korenizatsiya continued for several more years.
The People's Commissariat for Education listed five official characteristics of culturally backward nationalities:
In 1932 the People's Commissariat for Education published an official list of "culturally backward" nationalities: