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Sarah D. Phillips examines the struggles of disabled persons in Ukraine and the other former Soviet states to secure their rights during the tumultuous political, economic, and social reforms of the last two decades. Through participant observation and interviews with disabled Ukrainians across the social spectrum -- rights activists, politicians, students, workers, entrepreneurs, athletes, and others -- Phillips documents the creative strategies used by people on the margins of postsocialist societies to assert claims to "mobile citizenship." She draws on this rich ethnographic material to argue that public storytelling is a powerful means to expand notions of relatedness, kinship, and social responsibility, and which help shape a more tolerant and inclusive society.
Local Activism, National Policies, and Global Forces
Domestic violence has emerged as a significant public policy issue of transnational character and mobilization in the postcommunist era in Europe and Eurasia, as global forces have interacted with the agendas of governments, local and international women's groups, and human rights activists. The result of extensive collaboration among scholars and activist-practitioners -- many from postcommunist countries -- this volume examines the development of state policies, changes in public perceptions, and the interaction of national and international politics.
Jewish Identity, the Soviet Intelligentsia, and the Russian Orthodox Church
Doubly Chosen provides the first detailed study of a unique cultural and religious phenomenon in post-Stalinist Russia—the conversion of thousands of Russian Jewish intellectuals to Orthodox Christianity, first in the 1960s and later in the 1980s. These time periods correspond to the decades before and after the great exodus of Jews from the Soviet Union. Judith Deutsch Kornblatt contends that the choice of baptism into the Church was an act of moral courage in the face of Soviet persecution, motivated by solidarity with the values espoused by Russian Christian dissidents and intellectuals. Oddly, as Kornblatt shows, these converts to Russian Orthodoxy began to experience their Jewishness in a new and positive way.
Working primarily from oral interviews conducted in Russia, Israel, and the United States, Kornblatt underscores the conditions of Soviet life that spurred these conversions: the virtual elimination of Judaism as a viable, widely practiced religion; the transformation of Jews from a religious community to an ethnic one; a longing for spiritual values; the role of the Russian Orthodox Church as a symbol of Russian national culture; and the forging of a new Jewish identity within the context of the Soviet dissident movement.
The autocratic rule of both tsar and church in imperial Russia gave rise not only to a revolutionary movement in the nineteenth century but also to a crisis of meaning among members of the intelligentsia. Personal faith became the subject of intense scrutiny as individuals debated the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, debates reflected in the best-known novels of the day. Friendships were formed and broken in exchanges over the status of the eternal. The salvation of the entire country, not just of each individual, seemed to depend on the answers to questions about belief.
Victoria Frede looks at how and why atheism took on such importance among several generations of Russian intellectuals from the 1820s to the 1860s, drawing on meticulous and extensive research of both published and archival documents, including letters, poetry, philosophical tracts, police files, fiction, and literary criticism. She argues that young Russians were less concerned about theology and the Bible than they were about the moral, political, and social status of the individual person. They sought to maintain their integrity against the pressures exerted by an autocratic state and rigidly hierarchical society. As individuals sought to shape their own destinies and searched for truths that would give meaning to their lives, they came to question the legitimacy both of the tsar and of Russia’s highest authority, God.
Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552–1671
In 1552, Muscovite Russia conquered the city of Kazan on the Volga River. It was the first Orthodox Christian victory against Islam since the fall of Constantinople, a turning point that, over the next four years, would complete Moscow’s control over the river. This conquest provided a direct trade route with the Middle East and would transform Muscovy into a global power. As Matthew Romaniello shows, however, learning to manage the conquered lands and peoples would take decades.
Russia did not succeed in empire-building because of its strength, leadership, or even the weakness of its neighbors, Romaniello contends; it succeeded by managing its failures. Faced with the difficulty of assimilating culturally and religiously alien peoples across thousands of miles, the Russian state was forced to compromise in ways that, for a time, permitted local elites of diverse backgrounds to share in governance and to preserve a measure of autonomy. Conscious manipulation of political and religious language proved more vital than sheer military might. For early modern Russia, empire was still elusive—an aspiration to political, economic, and military control challenged by continuing resistance, mismanagement, and tenuous influence over vast expanses of territory.
America, Poland, and the End of the Cold War
Utilizing archival research and interviews with Polish and American government officials and opposition leaders, Domber argues that the United States empowered a specific segment of the Polish opposition and illustrates how Soviet leaders unwittingly fostered radical, pro-democratic change through their policies. The result is fresh insight into the global impact of the Polish pro-democracy movement.
The Revolutions of 1989 and the Resurgence of History
A fresh interpretation of the contexts, meanings, and consequences of the revolutions of 1989, coupled with state of the art reassessment of the significance and consequences of the events associated with the demise of communist regimes. The book provides an analysis that takes into account the complexities of the Soviet bloc, the events’ impact upon Europe, and their re-interpretation within a larger global context. Departs from static ways of analysis (events and their significance) bringing forth approaches that deal with both pre-1989 developments and the 1989 context itself, while extensively discussing the ways of resituating 1989 in the larger context of the 20th century and of its lessons for the 21st. Emphasizes the possibility for re-thinking and re-visiting the filters and means that scholars use to interpret such turning point. The editors perceive the present project as a challenge to existing readings on the complex set of issues and topics presupposed by a re-evaluation of 1989 as a symbol of the change and transition from authoritarianism to democracy.
Russian History and Literature as Stalinist Propaganda
Focusing on a number of historical and literary personalities who were regarded with disdain in the aftermath of the 1917 revolution—figures such as Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, and Mikhail Lermontov—Epic Revisionism tells the fascinating story of these individuals’ return to canonical status during the darkest days of the Stalin era.An inherently interdisciplinary project, Epic Revisionism features pieces on literary and cultural history, film, opera, and theater. This volume pairs scholarly essays with selections drawn from Stalin-era primary sources—newspaper articles, unpublished archival documents, short stories—to provide students and specialists with the richest possible understanding of this understudied phenomenon in modern Russian history.