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History > Russian and East European History

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Fascination and Enmity Cover

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Fascination and Enmity

Russia and Germany as Entangled Histories, 1914–1945

Edited by Michael David-Fox, Peter Holquist, and Alexander M. Martin

Russia and Germany have had a long history of significant cultural, political, and economic exchange. Despite these beneficial interactions, stereotypes of the alien Other persisted. Germans perceived Russia as a vast frontier with unlimited potential, yet infused with an “Asianness” that explained its backwardness and despotic leadership. Russians admired German advances in science, government, and philosophy, but saw their people as lifeless and obsessed with order. Fascination and Enmity presents an original transnational history of the two nations during the critical era of the world wars. By examining the mutual perceptions and misperceptions within each country, the contributors reveal the psyche of the Russian-German dynamic and its use as a powerful political and cultural tool. Through accounts of fellow travelers, POWs, war correspondents, soldiers on the front, propagandists, revolutionaries, the Comintern, and wartime and postwar occupations, the contributors analyze the kinetics of the Russian-German exchange and the perceptions drawn from these encounters. The result is a highly engaging chronicle of the complex entanglements of two world powers through the great wars of the twentieth century.

Feeding the Russian Fur Trade Cover

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Feeding the Russian Fur Trade

Provisionment of the Okhotsk Seaboard and the Kamchatka Peninsula, 1639–1856

James R. Gibson

James R. Gibson offers a detailed study that is both an account of this chapter of Russian history and a full examination of the changing geography of the Okhotsk Seaboard and the Kamchatka Peninsula over the course of two centuries.

The First Epoch Cover

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The First Epoch

The Eighteenth Century and Russian Cultural Imagination

First Films of the Holocaust Cover

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First Films of the Holocaust

Soviet Cinema and the Genocide of the Jews, 1938–1946

Jeremy Hicks

Most early Western perceptions of the Holocaust were based on newsreels filmed during the allied liberation of Germany in 1945. Little, however, was reported of the initial wave of material from Soviet filmmakers who were in fact the first to document these horrors. In First Films of the Holocaust, Jeremy Hicks presents a pioneering study of Soviet contributions to the growing public awareness of the horrors of Nazi rule. Even before the war, the Soviet film Professor Mamlock, which premiered in the United States in 1938 and coincided with the Kristallnacht pogrom, helped reinforce anti-Nazi sentiment. Yet, Soviet films were often dismissed or even banned in the West as Communist propaganda. Ironically, in the brief 1939–1941 period of Nazi and Soviet alliance, such films were also banned in the Soviet Union, only to be reclaimed after the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, and suppressed yet again during the Cold War. Jeremy Hicks recovers much of the major film work in Soviet depictions of the Shoa and views them within their political context, both locally and internationally. Overwhelmingly, wartime films were skewed to depict Soviet resistance, “Red funerals,” and calls for vengeance, rather than the singling out of Jewish victims by the Nazis. Almost no personal testimony of victims or synchronous sound was recorded, furthering the disconnection of the viewer to the victims. Hicks examines correspondence, scripts, reviews, and compares edited with unedited film, to unearth the deliberately hidden Jewish aspects of Soviet depictions of the German invasion and occupation. To Hicks, it’s in the silences, gaps, and ellipses that the films speak most clearly. Additionally, he details the reasons why Soviet Holocaust films have been subsequently erased from collective memory in the West and the Soviet Union: their graphic horror, their use as propaganda tools, and the postwar rise of the Red Scare in the United States and anti-Semitic campaigns in the Soviet Union.

Five Sisters Cover

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Five Sisters

Women Against the Tsar

Edited and Translated from the Russian By Barbara Alpern Engel and Clifford N. Rosenthal

Violent movements that opposed the existing political order erupted all over Europe in the course of the 19th century. Nowhere was revolutionary violence more visible and dramatic than in Russia. There, revolutionaries took the lives of dozens of people, most, though not all of them, high officials. Accepting the label “terrorist” as a badge of honor, the revolutionaries insisted upon the morality and justice of their cause, and they were fully prepared to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of it. Unlike most people considered terrorists today, Russian revolutionaries selected their targets carefully, focusing on those whom they regarded as responsible for the oppressive political and social order and mourning unanticipated civilian casualties. The goal: the replacement of the current order by one that would genuinely represent and serve the people.

Four Russian Serf Narratives Cover

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Four Russian Serf Narratives

Translated, edited, and with an introduction by John MacKay

Although millions of Russians lived as serfs until the middle of the nineteenth century, little is known about their lives. Identifying and documenting the conditions of Russian serfs has proven difficult because the Russian state discouraged literacy among the serfs and censored public expressions of dissent. To date scholars have identified only twenty known Russian serf narratives.
    Four Russian Serf Narratives contains four of these accounts and is the first translated collection of autobiographies by serfs. Scholar and translator John MacKay brings to light for an English-language audience a diverse sampling of Russian serf narratives, ranging from an autobiographical poem to stories of adventure and escape. “Autobiography” (1785) recounts a highly educated serf’s attempt to escape to Europe, where he hoped to study architecture. The long testimonial poem “News About Russia” (ca. 1849) laments the conditions under which the author and his fellow serfs lived. In “The Story of My Life and Wanderings” (1881) a serf tradesman tells of his attempt to simultaneously escape serfdom and captivity from Chechen mountaineers. The fragmentary “Notes of a Serf Woman” (1911) testifies to the harshness of peasant life with extraordinary acuity and descriptive power.
    These accounts offer readers a glimpse, from the point of view of the serfs themselves, into the realities of one of the largest systems of unfree labor in history. The volume also allows comparison with slave narratives produced in the United States and elsewhere, adding an important dimension to knowledge of the institution of slavery and the experience of enslavement in modern times.

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From Ethnic Conflict to Stillborn Reform

The Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia

By Shale Horowitz

From Ethnic Conflict to Stillborn Reform is the first complete treatment of the major post-communist conflicts in both the former Yugoslavia— Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia—and the former Soviet Union—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Tajikistan. It is also the first work that focuses not on causes but rather on consequences for democratization and market reform, the two most widely studied political outcomes in the developing world. Building on existing work emphasizing the effects of economic development and political culture, the book adds a new, comprehensive treatment of how war affects political and economic reform. Author Shale Horowitz employs both statistical evidence and historical case studies of the eight new nations to determine that ethnic conflict entangles, distracts, and destabilizes reformist democratic governments, while making it easier for authoritarian leaders to seize and consolidate power. As expected, economic backwardness worsens these tendencies, but Horowitz finds that powerful reform-minded nationalist ideologies can function as antidotes. The comprehensiveness of the treatment, use of both qualitative and quantitative analysis, and focus on standard concepts from comparative politics make this book an excellent tool for classroom use, as well as a ground-breaking analysis for scholars.

From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History Cover

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From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History

The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary

Zsuzsa Gille

Zsuzsa Gille combines social history, cultural analysis, and environmental sociology to advance a long overdue social theory of waste in this study of waste management, Hungarian state socialism, and post--Cold War capitalism. From 1948 to the end of the Soviet period, Hungary developed a cult of waste that valued reuse and recycling. With privatization the old environmentally beneficial, though not flawless, waste regime was eliminated, and dumping and waste incineration were again promoted. Gille's analysis focuses on the struggle between a Budapest-based chemical company and the small rural village that became its toxic dump site.

From the Shadow of Empire Cover

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From the Shadow of Empire

Defining the Russian Nation through Cultural Mythology, 1855–1870

Olga Maiorova

As nationalism spread across nineteenth-century Europe, Russia’s national identity remained murky: there was no clear distinction between the Russian nation and the expanding multiethnic empire that called itself “Russian.” When Tsar Alexander II’s Great Reforms (1855–1870s) allowed some freedom for public debate, Russian nationalist intellectuals embarked on a major project—which they undertook in daily press, popular historiography, and works of fiction—of finding the Russian nation within the empire and rendering the empire in nationalistic terms.
    From the Shadow of Empire traces how these nationalist writers refashioned key historical myths—the legend of the nation’s spiritual birth, the tale of the founding of Russia, stories of Cossack independence—to portray the Russian people as the ruling nationality, whose character would define the empire. In an effort to press the government to alter its traditional imperial policies, writers from across the political spectrum made the cult of military victories into the dominant form of national myth-making: in the absence of popular political participation, wars allowed for the people’s involvement in public affairs and conjured an image of unity between ruler and nation. With their increasing reliance on the war metaphor, Reform-era thinkers prepared the ground for the brutal Russification policies of the late nineteenth century and contributed to the aggressive character of twentieth-century Russian nationalism.

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From the Womb to the Body Politic

Raising the Nation in Enlightenment Russia

Anna Kuxhausen

In Russia during the second half of the eighteenth century, a public conversation emerged that altered perceptions of pregnancy, birth, and early childhood. Children began to be viewed as a national resource, and childbirth heralded new members of the body politic. The exclusively female world of mothers, midwives, and nannies came under the scrutiny of male physicians, state institutions, a host of zealous reformers, and even Empress Catherine the Great.
    Making innovative use of obstetrical manuals, belles lettres, children’s primers, and other primary documents from the era, Anna Kuxhausen draws together many discourses—medical, pedagogical, and political—to show the scope and audacity of new notions about childrearing. Reformers aimed to teach women to care for the bodies of pregnant mothers, infants, and children according to medical standards of the Enlightenment. Kuxhausen reveals both their optimism and their sometimes fatal blind spots in matters of implementation. In examining the implication of women in public, even political, roles as agents of state-building and the civilizing process, From the Womb to the Body Politic offers a nuanced, expanded view of the Enlightenment in Russia and the ways in which Russians imagined their nation while constructing notions of childhood.

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