The archival publication prepared by Alla Zeide presents the previously unpblished personal papers of Aleksei Aleksandrovich Goldenweiser (1890–1979), a Russian Jewish lawyer and public figure and examines these documents from the point of view of “imperial” life strategies. Goldenweiser was an archetypal Russian émigré who, after the collapse of the Russian Empire, continued to employ “imperial” strategies of socialization and integration. By “imperial,” is meant the multiplicity of loyalties that cannot be reduced to ethnic, professional, or some other dominant criteria. These loyalties were situational, and the fact of their multiplicity and even mutual exclusivity did not bother Goldenweiser. His life was always situated in many contexts simultaneously, while his texts allow us to reconstruct the types of the situations that produced this or that reaction to different challenges. The introduction traces the roots of such a virtual “imperial” worldview to Goldenweiser’s family, social and professional experiences in Kiev. It also problematizes the “imperial worldview” as a foundation of his relatively successful emigration experience and at the same time as an ambiguous detachment from important moral and political currents of life.
The archival publication includes Goldenweiser’s letters and excerpts from his notebooks, and describes his worldview and activities starting from 1918 in Kiev, Berlin, and later, in the US. The letters are preserved in the Goldenweiser collection in the Bakhmet’ev Archive in New York. The notebooks are preserved in a private archive and, until now, had not been published or known to historians of Russian emigration. Zeide’s the extensive commentary provides a greater sense of the many “contexts” of Goldenweiser’s life.