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The St. Petersburg Grain Trade and the Russian Economy, 1703–1811
In eighteenth-century Russia, as elsewhere in Europe, bread was a dietary staple—truly grain was the staff of economic, social, and political life. Early on Tsar Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg to export goods from Russia’s vast but remote interior and by doing so to drive Russia’s growth and prosperity. But the new city also had to be fed with grain brought over great distances from those same interior provinces. In this compelling account, Robert E. Jones chronicles how the unparalleled effort put into the building of a wide infrastructure to support the provisioning of the newly created but physically isolated city of St. Petersburg profoundly affected all of Russia’s economic life and, ultimately, the historical trajectory of the Russian Empire as a whole. Jones details the planning, engineering, and construction of extensive canal systems that efficiently connected the new capital city to grain and other resources as far away as the Urals, the Volga, and Ukraine. He then offers fresh insights to the state’s careful promotion and management of the grain trade during the long eighteenth century. He shows how the government established public granaries to combat shortages, created credit instruments to encourage risk taking by grain merchants, and encouraged the development of capital markets and private enterprise. The result was the emergence of an increasingly important cash economy along with a reliable system of provisioning the fifth largest city in Europe, with the political benefit that St. Petersburg never suffered the food riots common elsewhere in Europe. Thanks to this well-regulated but distinctly free-market trade arrangement, the grain-fueled economy became a wellspring for national economic growth, while also providing a substantial infrastructural foundation for a modernizing Russian state. In many ways, this account reveals the foresight of both Peter I and Catherine II and their determination to steer imperial Russia’s national economy away from statist solutions and onto a path remarkably similar to that taken by Western European countries but distinctly different than that of either their Muscovite predecessors or Soviet successors.
The Politics of Marital Strife in Late Imperial Russia
Russia's Great Reforms of 1861 were sweeping social and legal changes that aimed to modernize the country. In the following decades, rapid industrialization and urbanization profoundly transformed Russia's social, economic, and cultural landscape. Barbara Alpern Engel explores the personal, cultural, and political consequences of these dramatic changes, focusing on their impact on intimate life and expectations and the resulting challenges to the traditional, patriarchal family order, the cornerstone of Russia's authoritarian political and religious regime. The widely perceived "marriage crisis" had far-reaching legal, institutional, and political ramifications. In Breaking the Ties That Bound, Engel draws on exceptionally rich archival documentation-in particular, on petitions for marital separation and the materials generated by the ensuing investigations-to explore changing notions of marital relations, domesticity, childrearing, and intimate life among ordinary men and women in imperial Russia.
Engel illustrates with unparalleled vividness the human consequences of the marriage crisis. Her research reveals in myriad ways that the new and more individualistic values of the capitalist marketplace and commercial culture challenged traditional definitions of gender roles and encouraged the self-creation of new social identities. Engel captures the intimate experiences of women and men of the lower and middling classes in their own words, documenting instances not only of physical, mental, and emotional abuse but also of resistance and independence. These changes challenged Russia's rigid political order, forcing a range of state agents, up to and including those who spoke directly in the name of the tsar, to rethink traditional understandings of gender norms and family law. This remarkable social history is thus also a contribution to our understanding of the deepening political crisis of autocracy.
The Building of BAM and Late Soviet Socialism
Heralded by Soviet propaganda as the “Path to the Future,” the Baikal-Amur Mainline Railway (BAM) represented the hopes and dreams of Brezhnev and the Communist Party elite. Begun in 1974, and spanning approximately 2,000 miles after twenty-nine years of construction, the BAM project was intended to showcase the national unity, determination, skill, technology, and industrial might that Soviet socialism claimed to embody. More pragmatically, the Soviet leadership envisioned the BAM railway as a trade route to the Pacific, where markets for Soviet timber and petroleum would open up, and as an engine for the development of Siberia. Despite these aspirations and the massive commitment of economic resources on its behalf, BAM proved to be a boondoggle-a symbol of late communism's dysfunctionality-and a cruel joke to many ordinary Soviet citizens. In reality, BAM was woefully bereft of quality materials and construction, and victimized by poor planning and an inferior workforce. Today, the railway is fully complete, but remains a symbol of the profligate spending and inefficiency that characterized the Brezhnev years. Christopher J. Ward provides a groundbreaking social history of the BAM railway project. He examines the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of workers from the diverse republics of the USSR and other socialist countries, and his extensive archival research and interviews with numerous project workers provide an inside look at the daily life of the BAM workforce. We see firsthand the disorganization, empty promises, dire living and working conditions, environmental damage, and acts of crime, segregation, and discrimination that constituted daily life during the project's construction. Thus, perhaps, we also see the final irony of BAM: that the most lasting legacy of this misguided effort to build Soviet socialism is to shed historical light on the profound ills afflicting a society in terminal decline.
The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe
Despite the Holocaust’s profound impact on the history of Eastern Europe, the communist regimes successfully repressed public discourse about and memory of this tragedy. Since the collapse of communism in 1989, however, this has changed. Not only has a wealth of archival sources become available, but there have also been oral history projects and interviews recording the testimonies of eyewitnesses who experienced the Holocaust as children and young adults. Recent political, social, and cultural developments have facilitated a more nuanced and complex understanding of the continuities and discontinuities in representations of the Holocaust. People are beginning to realize the significant role that memory of Holocaust plays in contemporary discussions of national identity in Eastern Europe.
This volume of original essays explores the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish past in postcommunist Eastern Europe. Devoting space to every postcommunist country, the essays in Bringing the Dark Past to Light explore how the memory of the “dark pasts” of Eastern European nations is being recollected and reworked. In addition, it examines how this memory shapes the collective identities and the social identity of ethnic and national minorities. Memory of the Holocaust has practical implications regarding the current development of national cultures and international relationships.
In the summer of 1915, the Central Powers launched an offensive on the Eastern Front that they hoped would decide the war. It did not, of course. In June 1916, an Allied army under the command of Aleksei A. Brusilov decimated the Central Powers' gains of 1915. Brusilov's success brought Romania into the war, extinguished the offensive ability of the Habsburg armies, and forced Austria-Hungary into military dependence on and political subservience to Germany. The results were astonishing in military terms, but the political consequences were perhaps even more significant. More than any other action, the Brusilov Offensive brought the Habsburg Empire to the brink of a separate peace, while creating conditions for revolution within the Russian Imperial Army. Timothy C. Dowling tells the story of this important but little-known battle in the military and political history of the Eastern Front.
The Socialist Revolutionaries and the Bolshevik Dictatorship, 1918–1923
The Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) were the largest political party in Russia in the crucial revolutionary year of 1917. Heirs to the legacy of the People’s Will movement, the SRs were unabashed proponents of peasant rebellion and revolutionary terror, emphasizing the socialist transformation of the countryside and a democratic system of government. They offered a compelling, but still socialist, alternative to the Bolsheviks, yet by the early 1920s their party was shattered and its members were branded as enemies of the revolution. In 1922, SR leaders became the first fellow socialists to be condemned by the Bolsheviks as “counterrevolutionaries” in the prototypical Soviet show trial. In Captives of the Revolution, Scott B. Smith presents both a convincing account of the defeat of the SRs and a deeper analysis of the significance of the political dynamics of the civil war for Soviet history. Once the SRs decided to fight the Bolsheviks in 1918, they faced a series of nearly impossible political dilemmas. At the same time, the Bolsheviks undermined the SRs by appropriating the rhetoric of class struggle and painting a simplistic picture of Reds versus Whites in the civil war, a rhetorical dominance that they converted into victory over the SRs and any alternative to Bolshevik dictatorship. The SRs became a bona fide threat to national security and enemies of the people—a characterization that proved so successful that it became an archetype to be used repeatedly by the Soviet leadership against any political opponents, even those from within the Bolshevik party itself. Smith reveals a more complex and nuanced picture of the postrevolutionary struggle for power in Russia than we have ever seen before and demonstrates that the civil war—and in particular the struggle with the SRs—was the key formative experience of the Bolshevik party and the Soviet state.
The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present
Now back in print in a new edition!
A Century of Ambivalence
The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present
Second, Expanded Edition
A richly illustrated survey of the Jewish historical experience in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the post-Soviet era.
"Anyone with even a passing interest in the history of Russian Jewry will want to own this splendid... book." —Janet Hadda, Los Angeles Times
"... a badly needed historical perspective on Soviet Jewry.... [Gitelman] is evenhanded in his treatment of various periods and themes, as well as in his overall evaluation of the Soviet Jewish experience.... A Century of Ambivalence is illuminated by an extraordinary collection of photographs that vividly reflect the hopes, triumphs and agonies of Russian Jewish life." —David E. Fishman, Hadassah Magazine
"Wonderful pictures of famous personalities, unknown villagers, small hamlets, markets and communal structures combine with the text to create an uplifting [book] for a broad and general audience." —Alexander Orbach, Slavic Review
"Gitelman’s text provides an important commentary and careful historic explanation.... His portrayal of the promise and disillusionment, hope and despair, intellectual restlessness succeeded by swift repression enlarges the reader’s understanding of the dynamic forces behind some of the most important movements in contemporary Jewish life." —Jane S. Gerber, Bergen Jewish News
"... a lucid and reasonably objective popular history that expertly threads its way through the dizzying reversals of the Russian Jewish experience." —Village Voice
A century ago the Russian Empire contained the largest Jewish community in the world, numbering about five million people. Today, the Jewish population of the former Soviet Union has dwindled to half a million, but remains probably the world’s third largest Jewish community. In the intervening century the Jews of that area have been at the center of some of the most dramatic events of modern history—two world wars, revolutions, pogroms, political liberation, repression, and the collapse of the USSR. They have gone through tumultuous upward and downward economic and social mobility and experienced great enthusiasms and profound disappointments. In startling photographs from the archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and with a lively and lucid narrative, A Century of Ambivalence traces the historical experience of Jews in Russia from a period of creativity and repression in the second half of the 19th century through the paradoxes posed by the post-Soviet era. This redesigned edition, which includes more than 200 photographs and two substantial new chapters on the fate of Jews and Judaism in the former Soviet Union, is ideal for general readers and classroom use.
Zvi Gitelman is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He is author of Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics: The Jewish Sections of the CPSU, 1917–1930 and editor of Bitter Legacy: Confronting the Holocaust in the USSR (Indiana University Press).
Published in association with YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
Creativity versus Repression: The Jews in Russia, 1881–1917
Revolution and the Ambiguities of Liberation
Reaching for Utopia: Building Socialism and a New Jewish Culture
The Black Years and the Gray, 1948–1967
Soviet Jews, 1967–1987: To Reform, Conform, or Leave?
The "Other" Jews of the Former USSR: Georgian, Central Asian, and Mountain Jews
The Post-Soviet Era: Winding Down or Starting Up Again?
The Paradoxes of Post-Soviet Jewry
Politics in Central Asia
In the post-Soviet era, democracy has made little progress in Central Asia. Chaos, Violence, Dynasty presents a compelling explanation for this through a comparison of the divergent political courses taken by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan in the wake of Soviet rule. While the Soviet legacy is crucial to understanding the varying outcomes in these countries, Eric McGlinchey also examines the economics, religion, politics, foreign investment, and ethnic composition of these nations for insights into their relative strengths and weaknesses today. Soviet rule and influence in the region was inconsistent. Thus, their manipulation of the politics of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the late 1980s solidified the role of local elites, while in Kyrgyzstan Moscow looked away as leadership crumbled during the ethnic riots of 1990. Today, Kyrgyzstan is the poorest and most politically unstable country in the region, thanks to a small, corrupt, and fractured political elite. In Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov maintains power through the brutal suppression of disaffected Muslims, who are nevertheless rising in numbers and influence. In Kazakhstan, a political machine fueled by oil wealth and patronage underlies the greatest economic equity in the region, and far less political violence. This timely study concludes with a call for a more realistic and flexible view of the authoritarian systems in the region, if there is to be any potential benefit from foreign engagement with the nations of Central Asia and similar political systems globally.
Joseph II and the ‘Five Princesses,’ 1765-1790
In late eighteenth-century Vienna a remarkable coterie of five aristocratic women, popularly known as the “five princesses,” achieved social preeminence and acclaim as close associates of the reforming Habsburg Emperor Joseph II. They were Princess Maria Josepha Clary (1728–1801); Princess Maria Sidonia Kinsky (1729–1815); Princess Maria Leopoldine Liechtenstein (1733–1809); Countess, subsequently Princess, Maria Leopoldine Kaunitz (1741–1795); and Princess Maria Eleonore Liechtenstein (1745–1812). The group assumed a stable form by 1772, by which time Joseph II and two of his closest male associates, Field Marshal Franz Moritz Lacy and Count Franz Xavier Orsini-Rosenberg, had become accepted members of the circle as well. During the Viennese social season, members of the group made their way several times each week to the inner city palace of one of the “Dames,” as members of the group called themselves. During the summer months, when the women dispersed to visit country estates in Bohemia and Moravia or to travel, group members corresponded regularly. These were exciting, restless years in the Habsburg monarchy, as reforms were implemented to help the monarchy withstand threats to its stability and international stature from without and within. With assured access to the emperor and his closest advisors, the Dames enjoyed both a unique view of events and a chance to participate in public affairs (albeit informally and discreetly) as steadfast, acknowledged friends of the emperor. Through analysis of the correspondence of these women and of the published and unpublished commentaries of their contemporaries, this study scrutinizes the activities of this select group of women during the co-regency period (1765–1780) when Joseph shared responsibility with his mother, Maria Theresia, and during Joseph’s decade as sole ruler (1780–1790) after Maria Theresia’s death—years during which the women enjoyed their special position.
Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation
In Children of Rus’, Faith Hillis recovers an all but forgotten chapter in the history of the tsarist empire and its southwestern borderlands. The right bank, or west side, of the Dnieper River—which today is located at the heart of the independent state of Ukraine—was one of the Russian empire’s last territorial acquisitions, annexed only in the late eighteenth century. Yet over the course of the long nineteenth century, this newly acquired region nearly a thousand miles from Moscow and St. Petersburg generated a powerful Russian nationalist movement. Claiming to restore the ancient customs of the East Slavs, the southwest’s Russian nationalists sought to empower the ordinary Orthodox residents of the borderlands and to diminish the influence of their non-Orthodox minorities.
Right-bank Ukraine would seem unlikely terrain to nourish a Russian nationalist imagination. It was among the empire’s most diverse corners, with few of its residents speaking Russian as their native language or identifying with the culture of the Great Russian interior. Nevertheless, as Hillis shows, by the late nineteenth century, Russian nationalists had established a strong foothold in the southwest’s culture and educated society; in the first decade of the twentieth, they secured a leading role in local mass politics. By 1910, with help from sympathetic officials in St. Petersburg, right-bank activists expanded their sights beyond the borderlands, hoping to spread their nationalizing agenda across the empire.
Exploring why and how the empire’s southwestern borderlands produced its most organized and politically successful Russian nationalist movement, Hillis puts forth a bold new interpretation of state-society relations under tsarism as she reconstructs the role that a peripheral region played in attempting to define the essential characteristics of the Russian people and their state.