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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.

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Constructing Grievance

Ethnic Nationalism in Russia's Republics

by Elise Giuliano

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.

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Consumed by War

European Conflict in the 20th Century

Richard C. Hall

Europe endured such incessant political discord throughout the twentieth century that some historians refer to the period's conflicts as the Long War. During the Balkan wars of 1912--1913, regional fighting in southeastern Europe ignited conflict across the continent that continued through both world wars and the Cold War.

In Consumed by War: European Conflict in the 20th Century, Richard C. Hall illuminates the complex diplomatic and military struggles of a region whose instability, rooted in a nineteenth-century nationalistic fervor, provided a catalyst for the political events that ensued. From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 to the incarceration of Radovan Karadzic in 2008, this narrative history appeals to general readers and scholars interested in a fresh interpretation of a complicated and brutal era.

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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.

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A Contested Borderland

Competing Russian and Romanian Visions of Bessarabia in the Second Half of the 19th and Early 20th Century

Andrei Cusco

Bessarabia was the only territory representing an object of rivalry and symbolic competition between the Russian Empire and a fully crystallized nation-state: the Kingdom of Romania. This book is an intellectual prehistory of the Bessarabian problem, focusing on the antagonism of the national and imperial visions of this contested periphery. Through a critical reassessment and revision of the traditional historical narratives, the study argues that Bessarabia was claimed not just by two opposing projects of ‘symbolic inclusion,’ but also by two alternative and theoretically antagonistic models of political legitimacy. By transcending the national lens of Bessarabian / Moldovan history and viewing it in the broader Eurasian comparative context, the book responds to the growing tendency in recent historiography to focus on the peripheries in order to better understand the functioning of national and imperial states in the modern era.

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The Correspondence of Iu Samarin and Baroness Rahden

1861-1876

Iuri Samarin and Baroness Rahden were intelligent and cultured people who moved easily in nineteenth-century Russian and European society and whose comments on leading personalities, religious, political, and social questions still have relevance for today. The Correspondence of Iu Samarin and Baroness Rahden introduces the reader to a side of Russian intellectual life that deserves more attention than it has generally received, if only because it opens the door to a broader view of Russian society.

Iuri Samarin was one of the most prominent and effective Slavophils, exerting a powerful influence on the development of Russian society in his lifetime as a political reformer and publicist. His work deserves attention, and this correspondence reveals much about the quality of his learning, his personality and character, and his philosophy of politics and religion.

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The Craft of Political Analysis for Diplomats

RAYMOND F. SMITH

Until the recent unauthorized release of thousands of classified State Department cables, public attention was rarely drawn to the frequently outstanding political analysis done by American diplomats abroad. The existing literature on diplomacy has heretofore been limited to memoirs of former diplomats and analyses of international affairs by diplomats, academics, and think tanks. The Craft of Political Analysis offers a fresh approach, one that provides a context for interpreting this embassy reporting and a guide to understanding the work that went on behind the scenes to produce it. Author Raymond F. Smith combines a practitioner’s personal view of what is required to do good diplomatic political analysis with his understanding of the social conflict and change that informed his work for the State Department. Smith clearly explains everything the Foreign Service candidate or professional, as well as the interested layman, needs to know about crafting political analysis, including how to write for the analyst’s intended audience, how to make best use of the intellectual and analytical tools of the trade, what happens when the analyst’s views differ from government policy, and why political analysis risks becoming irrelevant, even though it is still urgently needed. In addition, The Craft of Political Analysis for Diplomats features two case studies using legally declassified cables not included in the Wikileaks release. The first is built around four highly restricted Embassy Moscow cables on the collapse of the Soviet Union; the second includes two cables on the Arab-Israeli conflict that received the State Department’s highest award for political analysis. Selected for the Diplomats and Diplomacy Series of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) and DACOR, an organization of foreign affairs professionals.

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Creating Kosovo

International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions

by Elton Skendaj

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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.

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Crossing Borders

Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union

by Michael David-Fox

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.

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