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"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.
Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union
Crossing Borders deconstructs contemporary theories of Soviet history from the revolution through the Stalin period, and offers new interpretations based on a transnational perspective. To Michael David-Fox, Soviet history was shaped by interactions across its borders. By reexamining conceptions of modernity, ideology, and cultural transformation, he challenges the polarizing camps of Soviet exceptionalism and shared modernity and instead strives for a theoretical and empirical middle ground as the basis for a creative and richly textured analysis. Discussions of Soviet modernity have tended to see the Soviet state either as an archaic holdover from the Russian past or as merely another form of conventional modernity. David-Fox instead considers the Soviet Union in its own light—as a seismic shift from tsarist society that attracted influential visitors from the pacifist Left to the fascist Right. By reassembling Russian legacies, as he shows, the Soviet system evolved into a complex “intelligentsia-statist” form that introduced an array of novel agendas and practices, many embodied in the unique structures of the party-state. Crossing Borders demonstrates the need for a new interpretation of the Russian-Soviet historical trajectory—one that strikes a balance between the particular and the universal.
Raising the Iron Curtain
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.
Lower-Class Values, Practices, and Resistance in Late Imperial Russia
The popular culture of urban and rural tsarist Russia revealed a dynamic and troubled world. Stephen Frank and Mark Steinberg have gathered here a diverse collection of essays by Western and Russian scholars who question conventional interpretations and recall neglected stories about popular behavior, politics, and culture. What emerges is a new picture of lower-class life, in which traditions and innovations intermingled and social boundaries and identities were battered and reconstructed.
The authors vividly convey the vitality as well as the contradictions of social life in old regime Russia, while also confronting problems of interpretation, methodology, and cultural theory. They tell of peasant death rites and religious beliefs, family relationships and brutalities, defiant peasant women, folk songs, urban amusement parks, expressions of popular patriotism, the penny press, workers' notions of the self, street hooliganism, and attempts by educated Russians to transform popular festivities. Together, the authors portray popular culture not as a static, separate world, but as the dynamic means through which lower-class Russians engaged the world around them.
In addition to the editors, the contributors to this volume are Daniel R. Brower, Barbara Alpern Engel, Hubertus F. Jahn, Al'bin M. Konechnyi, Boris N. Mironov, Joan Neuberger, Robert A. Rothstein, and Christine D. Worobec.