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Russia's Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa
Old Odessa, on the Black Sea, gained notoriety as a legendary city of Jewish gangsters and swindlers, a frontier boomtown mythologized for the adventurers, criminals, and merrymakers who flocked there to seek easy wealth and lead lives of debauchery and excess. Odessa is also famed for the brand of Jewish humor brought there in the 19th century from the shtetls of Eastern Europe and that flourished throughout Soviet times. From a broad historical perspective, Jarrod Tanny examines the hybrid Judeo-Russian culture that emerged in Odessa in the 19th century and persisted through the Soviet era and beyond. The book shows how the art of eminent Soviet-era figures such as Isaac Babel, Il'ia Ilf, Evgenii Petrov, and Leonid Utesov grew out of the Odessa Russian-Jewish culture into which they were born and which shaped their lives.
The Interaction of Climate and Agricultural Policy and Their Effect on Food Problems
Between 1900 and 1990 there were several periods of grain and other food shortages in Russia and the former Soviet Union, some of which reached disaster proportions resulting in mass famine and death on an unprecedented scale. New stocks of information not previously accessible as well as traditional official and other sources have been used to explore the extent to which policy and vagaries in climate conspired to affect agricultural yields. Were the leaders' (Stalin, Krushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev) policies sound in theory but failed in practice because of unpredictable weather? How did the Soviet peasants react to these changes? What impact did Soviet agriculture have on the overall economy of the country? These are all questions that are taken into account. The book is arranged in chapters representing different time periods. In each the policy of the central government is discussed followed by the climate vagaries during that period. Crop yields are then analyzed in the light of policy and climate.
"This book represents the most sophisticated historiographical approach to understanding nation-building. Patrice Dabrowski demonstrates tremendous erudition... making brilliant use of contemporary newspapers and journals, as well as archival material." -- Larry Wolff, Boston College, author of Inventing Eastern Europe
Patrice M. Dabrowski investigates the nation-building activities of Poles during the decades preceding World War I, when the stateless Poles were minorities within the empires of Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary. Could Poles maintain a sense of national identity, or would they become Germans, Austrians, or Russians? Dabrowski demonstrates that Poles availed themselves of the ability to celebrate anniversaries of past deeds and personages to strengthen their nation from within, providing a ground for a national discourse capable of unifying Poles across political boundaries and social and cultural differences. Public commemorations such as the jubilee of the writer Jozef Kraszewski, the bicentennial of the Relief of Vienna, and the return to Poland of the remains of the poet Adam Mickiewicz are reconstructed here in vivid detail.
Ukrainians and Global Evangelism
After decades of official atheism, a religious renaissance swept through much of the former Soviet Union beginning in the late 1980s. The Calvinist-like austerity and fundamentalist ethos that had evolved among sequestered and frequently persecuted Soviet evangelicals gave way to a charismatic embrace of ecstatic experience, replete with a belief in faith healing. Catherine Wanner's historically informed ethnography, the first book on evangelism in the former Soviet Union, shows how once-marginal Ukrainian evangelical communities are now thriving and growing in social and political prominence. Many Soviet evangelicals relocated to the United States after the fall of the Soviet Union, expanding the spectrum of evangelicalism in the United States and altering religious life in Ukraine. Migration has created new transnational evangelical communities that are now asserting a new public role for religion in the resolution of numerous social problems.
Hundreds of American evangelical missionaries have engaged in "church planting" in Ukraine, which is today home to some of the most active and robust evangelical communities in all of Europe. Thanks to massive assistance from the West, Ukraine has become a hub for clerical and missionary training in Eurasia. Many Ukrainians travel as missionaries to Russia and throughout the former Soviet Union. In revealing the phenomenal transformation of religious life in a land once thought to be militantly godless, Wanner shows how formerly socialist countries experience evangelical revival. Communities of the Converted engages issues of migration, morality, secularization, and global evangelism, while highlighting how they have been shaped by socialism.
A Scholar's Initiative, 2nd edition
It has been two decades since Yugoslavia fell apart. The brutal conflicts that followed its dissolution are over, but the legacy of the tragedy continues to unsettle the region. Reconciliation is a long and difficult process that necessitates a willingness to work together openly and objectively in confronting the past. Over the past ten years the Scholars’ Initiative has assembled an international consortium of historians, social scientists, and jurists to examine the salient controversies that still divide the peoples of former Yugoslavia. The findings of its eleven research teams represent a direct assault on the proprietary narratives and interpretations that nationalist politicians and media have impressed on mass culture in each of the successor states. Given gaps in the historical record and the existence of sometimes contradictory evidence, this volume does not pretend to resolve all of the outstanding issues. Nevertheless, this second edition incorporates new evidence and major developments that have taken place in the region since the first edition went to press. At the heart of this project has always been the insistence of the authors that they would continue to reconsider their analyses and conclusions based on credible new evidence. Thus, in this second edition, the work of the Scholars' Initiative continues. The broadly conceived synthesis will assist scholars, public officials, and the people they represent both in acknowledging inconvenient facts and in discrediting widely held myths that inform popular attitudes and the electoral success of nationalist politicians who profit from them. Rather than rely on special pleading and appeals to patriotism that have no place in scholarship, the volume vests its credibility in the scientific credentials of its investigators, the transparent impartiality of its methodology, and an absolute commitment to soliciting and examining evidence presented by all sides.
"Olga Litvak has written a book of astonishing originality and intellectual force.... In vivid prose, she takes the reader on a journey through the Russian-Jewish literary imagination." -- Benjamin Nathans
Russian Jews were first conscripted into the Imperial Russian army during the reign of Nicholas I in an effort to integrate them into the population of the Russian Empire. Conscripted minors were to serve, in practical terms, for life. Although this system was abandoned by his successor, the conscription experience remained traumatic in the popular memory and gave rise to a large and continuing literature that often depicted Jewish soldiers as heroes. This imaginative and intellectually ambitious book traces the conscription theme in novels and stories by some of the best-known Russian Jewish writers such as Osip Rabinovich, Judah-Leib Gordon, and Mendele Mokher Seforim, as well as by relatively unknown writers.
Published with the generous support of the Koret Foundation.
Ethnic Nationalism in Russia's Republics
Demands for national independence among ethnic minorities around the world suggest the power of nationalism. Contemporary nationalist movements can quickly attract fervent followings, but they can just as rapidly lose support. In Constructing Grievance, Elise Giuliano asks why people with ethnic identities throw their support behind nationalism in some cases but remain quiescent in others. Popular support for nationalism, Giuliano contends, is often fleeting. It develops as part of the process of political mobilization-a process that itself transforms the meaning of ethnic identity. She compares sixteen ethnic republics of the Russian Federation, where nationalist mobilization varied widely during the early 1990s despite a common Soviet inheritance. Drawing on field research in the republic of Tatarstan, socioeconomic statistical data, and a comparative discourse analysis of local newspapers, Giuliano argues that people respond to nationalist leaders after developing a group grievance. Ethnic grievances, however, are not simply present or absent among a given population based on societal conditions. Instead, they develop out of the interaction between people's lived experiences and the specific messages that nationalist entrepreneurs put forward concerning ethnic group disadvantage.
In Russia, Giuliano shows, ethnic grievances developed rapidly in certain republics in the late Soviet era when messages articulated by nationalist leaders about ethnic inequality in local labor markets resonated with people's experience of growing job insecurity in a contracting economy. In other republics, however, where nationalist leaders focused on articulating other issues, such as cultural and language problems facing the ethnic group, group grievances failed to develop, and popular support for nationalism stalled. People with ethnic identities, Giuliano concludes, do not form political interest groups primed to support ethnic politicians and movements for national secession.
Harmony and Change at the International Science and Technology Center
In this ethnography of postsocialist Moscow in the late 1990s, Olga Shevchenko draws on interviews with a cross-section of Muscovites to describe how people made sense of the acute uncertainties of everyday life, and the new identities and competencies that emerged in response to these challenges. Ranging from consumption to daily rhetoric, and from urban geography to health care, this study illuminates the relationship between crisis and normality and adds a new dimension to the debates about postsocialist culture and politics.