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Chaos, Violence, and Dynasty

Politics in Central Asia

Eric McGlinchey

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.

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The Charmed Circle

Joseph II and the ‘Five Princesses,’ 1765-1790

by Rebecca Gates-Coon

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.

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Children of Rus’

Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation

by Faith Hillis

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.

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The Chronicle of the Czechs

The Chronicle of the Czechs by Cosmas of Prague (d. 1125) is a masterwork of medieval historical writing, deeply erudite, consciously researched, and narrated in high rhetorical style.

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The Cinema of the Soviet Thaw

Space, Materiality, Movement

Lida Oukaderova

Following Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet Union experienced a dramatic resurgence in cinematic production. The period of the Soviet Thaw became known for its relative political and cultural liberalization; its films, formally innovative and socially engaged, were swept to the center of international cinematic discourse. In The Cinema of the Soviet Thaw, Lida Oukaderova provides an in-depth analysis of several Soviet films made between 1958 and 1967 to argue for the centrality of space—as both filmic trope and social concern—to Thaw-era cinema. Opening with a discussion of the USSR’s little-examined late-fifties embrace of panoramic cinema, the book pursues close readings of films by Mikhail Kalatozov, Georgii Danelia, Larisa Shepitko and Kira Muratova, among others. It demonstrates that these directors’ works were motivated by an urge to interrogate and reanimate spatial experience, and through this project to probe critical issues of ideology, social progress, and subjectivity within post–Stalinist culture.

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Cinemas in Transition in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989

Edited by Catherine Portuges, and Peter John Bursell Hames

An examination of Eastern European cinema a generation after the end of the Cold War

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Cinematic Cold War

The American and Soviet Struggle for Hearts and Minds

The first full length hstory of US and Soviet ciemas role in waging the Cold War.

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Cinepaternity

Fathers and Sons in Soviet and Post-Soviet Film

Edited by Helena Goscilo and Yana Hashamova

This wide-ranging collection investigates the father/son dynamic in post-Stalinist Soviet cinema and its Russian successor. Contributors analyze complex patterns of identification, disavowal, and displacement in films by such diverse directors as Khutsiev, Motyl', Tarkovsky, Balabanov, Sokurov, Todorovskii, Mashkov, and Bekmambetov. Several chapters focus on the difficulties of fulfilling the paternal function, while others show how vertical and horizontal male bonds are repeatedly strained by the pressure of redefining an embattled masculinity in a shifting political landscape.

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The Circassian Genocide

Walter Richmond

Circassia was a small independent nation on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea. For no reason other than ethnic hatred, over the course of hundreds of raids the Russians drove the Circassians from their homeland and deported them to the Ottoman Empire. At least 600,000 people lost their lives to massacre, starvation, and the elements while hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homeland. By 1864, three-fourths of the population was annihilated, and the Circassians had become one of the first stateless peoples in modern history.

Using rare archival materials, Walter Richmond chronicles the history of the war, describes in detail the final genocidal campaign, and follows the Circassians in diaspora through five generations as they struggle to survive and return home. He places the periods of acute genocide, 1821–1822 and 1863–1864, in the larger context of centuries of tension between the two nations and updates the story to the present day as the Circassian community works to gain international recognition of the genocide as the region prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the site of the Russians’ final victory.

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City of Rogues and Schnorrers

Russia's Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa

Jarrod Tanny

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.

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