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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.
Modern State Practices and Soviet Socialism, 1914–1939
Under Stalin's leadership, the Soviet government carried out a massive number of deportations, incarcerations, and executions. Paradoxically, at the very moment that Soviet authorities were killing thousands of individuals, they were also engaged in an enormous pronatalist campaign to boost the population. Even as the number of repressions grew exponentially, Communist Party leaders enacted sweeping social welfare and public health measures to safeguard people's well-being. Extensive state surveillance of the population went hand in hand with literacy campaigns, political education, and efforts to instill in people an appreciation of high culture.
In Cultivating the Masses, David L. Hoffmann examines the Party leadership's pursuit of these seemingly contradictory policies in order to grasp fully the character of the Stalinist regime, a regime intent on transforming the socioeconomic order and the very nature of its citizens. To analyze Soviet social policies, Hoffmann places them in an international comparative context. He explains Soviet technologies of social intervention as one particular constellation of modern state practices. These practices developed in conjunction with the ambitions of nineteenth-century European reformers to refashion society, and they subsequently prompted welfare programs, public health initiatives, and reproductive regulations in countries around the world.
The mobilizational demands of World War I impelled political leaders to expand even further their efforts at population management, via economic controls, surveillance, propaganda, and state violence. Born at this moment of total war, the Soviet system institutionalized these wartime methods as permanent features of governance. Party leaders, whose dictatorship included no checks on state power, in turn attached interventionist practices to their ideological goal of building socialism.
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.
Deportation of Czechoslovak Citizens to the USSR and the Negotiation for their Repatriation, 1945-1953
After the entry of the Red Army into Czechoslovak territory in 1945, Red Army authorities began to arrest and deport Czechoslovak citizens to labor camps in the Soviet Union. The regions most affected were Eastern and South Slovakia and Prague. The Czechoslovak authorities repeatedly requested a halt to the deportations and that the deported Czechoslovaks be returned immediately. It took a long time before these protests generated any response. Czechoslovak Diplomacy and the Gulag focuses on the diplomatic and political aspects of the deportations. The author explains the steps taken by the Czechoslovak Government in the repatriation agenda from 1945 to 1953 and reconstructs the negotiations with the Soviets. The research tries to answer the question of why and how the Russians deported the civilian population from Czechoslovakia which was their allied country already during the war. Key words: 1. World War, 1939–1945—Deportations from Czechoslovakia. 2. Forced labor—Soviet Union—History. 3. Labor camps—Soviet Union—History. 4. Czechs—Soviet Union—History. 5. Slovaks—Soviet Union--History. 6. Czechoslovakia—Foreign relations—Soviet Union. 7. Soviet Union—Foreign relations—Czechoslovakia. 8. Czechoslovakia—Foreign relations—1945–1992. 9. Repatriation—Czechoslovakia—History.