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Conscription and the Search for Modern Russian Jewry Cover

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Conscription and the Search for Modern Russian Jewry

Olga Litvak

"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.

Constructing Grievance Cover

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Constructing Grievance

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.

Containing Russia's Nuclear Firebirds Cover

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Containing Russia's Nuclear Firebirds

Harmony and Change at the International Science and Technology Center

Glenn E. Schweitzer

In Containing Russia’s Nuclear Firebirds, Glenn E. Schweitzer explores the life and legacy of the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow. He makes the case that the center’s unique programs can serve as models for promoting responsible science in many countries of the world.

Never before have scientists encountered technology with the potential for such huge impacts on the global community, both positive and negative. For nearly two decades following the Soviet Union’s breakup into independent states, the ISTC has provided opportunities for underemployed Russian weapon scientists to redirect their talents toward civilian research. The center has championed the role of science in determining the future of civilization and has influenced nonproliferation policies of Russia and other states in the region. Most important, the center has demonstrated that modest investments can encourage scientists of many backgrounds to shun greed and violence and to take leading roles in steering the planet toward prosperity and peace.

Schweitzer contends that the United States and other western and Asian countries failed to recognize the importance, over time, of modifying their donor-recipient approach to dealing with Russia. In April 2010 the Russian government announced that it would withdraw from the ISTC agreement. After expenditures exceeding one billion dollars, the ISTC’s Moscow Science Center will soon close its doors, leaving a legacy that has benefited Russian society as well as partners from thirty-eight countries. Schweitzer argues that a broader and more sustained movement is now needed to help prevent irresponsible behavior by dissatisfied or misguided scientists and their patrons.

Crisis and the Everyday in Postsocialist Moscow Cover

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Crisis and the Everyday in Postsocialist Moscow

Olga Shevchenko

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.

Cultural Exchange and the Cold War Cover

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Cultural Exchange and the Cold War

Raising the Iron Curtain

Yale Richmond

Yale Richmond records a highly significant chapter in Soviet-American relations during the final decades of Communism. He provides us with a deftly written, accurate, and thoughtful account of the cultural exchanges that were such important channels of influence and persuasion during those years. His book covers the whole spectrum-from scholars and scientific collaboration to fairs and exhibits. We should be grateful that he has undertaken this task before memories fade.-Allen H. Kassof, former Executive Director, International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), 1968-1992Some fifty thousand Soviets visited the United States under various exchange programs between 1958 and 1988. They came as scholars and students, scientists and engineers, writers and journalists, government and party officials, musicians, dancers, and athletes-and among them were more than a few KGB officers. They came, they saw, they were conquered, and the Soviet Union would never again be the same. Cultural Exchange and the Cold War describes how these exchange programs (which brought an even larger number of Americans to the Soviet Union) raised the Iron Curtain and fostered changes that prepared the way for Gorbachev's glasnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War.This study is based upon interviews with Russian and American participants as well as the personal experiences of the author and others who were involved in or administered such exchanges. Cultural Exchange and the Cold War demonstrates that the best policy to pursue with countries we disagree with is not isolation but engagement.

Debating the Past Cover

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Debating the Past

Modern Bulgarian Historiography—From Stambolov to Zhivkov

By Roumen Daskalov

The book is comprised of the four major debates on modern Bulgarian history from Independence in 1878 to the fall of communism in 1989. The debates are on the Bulgarian–Russian/Soviet relations, on the relations between Agrarians and Communists, on Bulgarian Fascism, and on Communism. They are associated with the rule of key political personalities in Bulgarian history: Stambolov (1887–1894), Stamboliiski (1919–1923), Tsar Boris III (1918–1943), and the communist leaders Georgi Dimitrov and Todor Zhivkov (1956–1989). The debates are traced through their various articulations and dramatic turns from their beginnings to the present day.

The Defiant Life of Vera Figner Cover

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The Defiant Life of Vera Figner

Surviving the Russian Revolution

Lynne Ann Hartnett

This engaging biography tells the dramatic story of a Russian noblewoman turned revolutionary terrorist. Born in 1852 in the last years of serfdom, Vera Figner came of age as Imperial Russian society was being rocked by the massive upheaval that culminated in the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. At first a champion of populist causes and women's higher education, Figner later became a leader of the terrorist party the People's Will and was an accomplice in the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. Drawing on extensive archival research and careful reading of Figner's copious memoirs, Lynne Ann Hartnett reveals how Figner survived the Bolshevik revolution and Stalin's Great Purges and died a lionized revolutionary legend as the Nazis bore down on Moscow in 1942.

Derzhavin Cover

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Derzhavin

A Biography

Vladislav Khodasevich, Translated and with an introduction by Angela Brintlinger

Russian poet, soldier, and statesman Gavriil Derzhavin (1743–1816) lived during an epoch of momentous change in Russia—imperial expansion, peasant revolts, war with Turkey, and struggle with Napoleon—and he served three tsars, including Catherine the Great. Here in its first English translation is the masterful biography of Derzhavin by another acclaimed Russian man of letters, Vladislav Khodasevich.
            Derzhavin occupied a position at the center of Russian life, uniting civic service with poetic inspiration and creating an oeuvre that at its essence celebrated the triumphs of Russia and its rulers, particularly Catherine the Great. His biographer Khodasevich, by contrast, left Russia in 1922, unable to abide the increasingly repressive regime of the Soviets. For Khodasevich, whose lyric poems were as commonplace in their focus as Derzhavin’s odes were grand, this biography was in a sense a rediscovery of a lost and idyllic era, a period when it was possible to aspire to the pinnacles of artistic achievement while still occupying a central role in Russian society.
Khodasevich writes with humor, intelligence, and understanding, and his work stands as a monument to the last three centuries of Russian history, lending keen insight into Russia’s past as well as its present and future.


“Khodasevich’s light narrative touch (as translated by Brintlinger) lends a novelistic quality to the biography, making it a genuine tour de force. All students and scholars – of history, literature, poetry, biography – will find something of interest here.”—Choice

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