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The St. Petersburg Grain Trade and the Russian Economy, 1703–1811
In eighteenth-century Russia, as elsewhere in Europe, bread was a dietary staple—truly grain was the staff of economic, social, and political life. Early on Tsar Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg to export goods from Russia’s vast but remote interior and by doing so to drive Russia’s growth and prosperity. But the new city also had to be fed with grain brought over great distances from those same interior provinces. In this compelling account, Robert E. Jones chronicles how the unparalleled effort put into the building of a wide infrastructure to support the provisioning of the newly created but physically isolated city of St. Petersburg profoundly affected all of Russia’s economic life and, ultimately, the historical trajectory of the Russian Empire as a whole. Jones details the planning, engineering, and construction of extensive canal systems that efficiently connected the new capital city to grain and other resources as far away as the Urals, the Volga, and Ukraine. He then offers fresh insights to the state’s careful promotion and management of the grain trade during the long eighteenth century. He shows how the government established public granaries to combat shortages, created credit instruments to encourage risk taking by grain merchants, and encouraged the development of capital markets and private enterprise. The result was the emergence of an increasingly important cash economy along with a reliable system of provisioning the fifth largest city in Europe, with the political benefit that St. Petersburg never suffered the food riots common elsewhere in Europe. Thanks to this well-regulated but distinctly free-market trade arrangement, the grain-fueled economy became a wellspring for national economic growth, while also providing a substantial infrastructural foundation for a modernizing Russian state. In many ways, this account reveals the foresight of both Peter I and Catherine II and their determination to steer imperial Russia’s national economy away from statist solutions and onto a path remarkably similar to that taken by Western European countries but distinctly different than that of either their Muscovite predecessors or Soviet successors.
The Building of BAM and Late Soviet Socialism
Heralded by Soviet propaganda as the “Path to the Future,” the Baikal-Amur Mainline Railway (BAM) represented the hopes and dreams of Brezhnev and the Communist Party elite. Begun in 1974, and spanning approximately 2,000 miles after twenty-nine years of construction, the BAM project was intended to showcase the national unity, determination, skill, technology, and industrial might that Soviet socialism claimed to embody. More pragmatically, the Soviet leadership envisioned the BAM railway as a trade route to the Pacific, where markets for Soviet timber and petroleum would open up, and as an engine for the development of Siberia. Despite these aspirations and the massive commitment of economic resources on its behalf, BAM proved to be a boondoggle-a symbol of late communism's dysfunctionality-and a cruel joke to many ordinary Soviet citizens. In reality, BAM was woefully bereft of quality materials and construction, and victimized by poor planning and an inferior workforce. Today, the railway is fully complete, but remains a symbol of the profligate spending and inefficiency that characterized the Brezhnev years. Christopher J. Ward provides a groundbreaking social history of the BAM railway project. He examines the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of workers from the diverse republics of the USSR and other socialist countries, and his extensive archival research and interviews with numerous project workers provide an inside look at the daily life of the BAM workforce. We see firsthand the disorganization, empty promises, dire living and working conditions, environmental damage, and acts of crime, segregation, and discrimination that constituted daily life during the project's construction. Thus, perhaps, we also see the final irony of BAM: that the most lasting legacy of this misguided effort to build Soviet socialism is to shed historical light on the profound ills afflicting a society in terminal decline.
The Socialist Revolutionaries and the Bolshevik Dictatorship, 1918–1923
The Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) were the largest political party in Russia in the crucial revolutionary year of 1917. Heirs to the legacy of the People’s Will movement, the SRs were unabashed proponents of peasant rebellion and revolutionary terror, emphasizing the socialist transformation of the countryside and a democratic system of government. They offered a compelling, but still socialist, alternative to the Bolsheviks, yet by the early 1920s their party was shattered and its members were branded as enemies of the revolution. In 1922, SR leaders became the first fellow socialists to be condemned by the Bolsheviks as “counterrevolutionaries” in the prototypical Soviet show trial. In Captives of the Revolution, Scott B. Smith presents both a convincing account of the defeat of the SRs and a deeper analysis of the significance of the political dynamics of the civil war for Soviet history. Once the SRs decided to fight the Bolsheviks in 1918, they faced a series of nearly impossible political dilemmas. At the same time, the Bolsheviks undermined the SRs by appropriating the rhetoric of class struggle and painting a simplistic picture of Reds versus Whites in the civil war, a rhetorical dominance that they converted into victory over the SRs and any alternative to Bolshevik dictatorship. The SRs became a bona fide threat to national security and enemies of the people—a characterization that proved so successful that it became an archetype to be used repeatedly by the Soviet leadership against any political opponents, even those from within the Bolshevik party itself. Smith reveals a more complex and nuanced picture of the postrevolutionary struggle for power in Russia than we have ever seen before and demonstrates that the civil war—and in particular the struggle with the SRs—was the key formative experience of the Bolshevik party and the Soviet state.
Politics in Central Asia
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.
“Reading Jeffrey McDaniel’s gorgeously dark and utterly compelling Chapel of Inadvertent Joy reminds me that he is probably the most important poet in America. The book in your hands was written by a master of metaphor and a poet of huge imagination and fierce ingenuity, a fine antidote to realism. Get this voice in your head.”—Major Jackson
Current global estimates of children engaged in warfare range from 200,000 to 300,000. Children's roles in conflict range from armed and active participants to spies, cooks, messengers, and sex slaves.This volume examines the factors that contribute to the use of children in war, the effects of war upon children, and the perpetual cycle of warfare that engulfs many of the world's poorest nations.The contributors seek to eliminate myths of historic or culture-based violence, and instead look to common traits of chronic poverty and vulnerable populations. Individual essays examine topics such as: the legal and ethical aspects of child soldiering; internal UN debates over enforcement of child protection policies; economic factors; increased access to small arms; displaced populations; resource endowments; forced government conscription; rebel-enforced quota systems; motivational techniques employed in recruiting children; and the role of girls in conflict.The contributors also offer viable policies to reduce the recruitment of child soldiers such as the protection of refugee camps by outside forces, “naming and shaming,” and criminal prosecution by international tribunals. Finally, they focus on ways to reintegrate former child soldiers into civil society in the aftermath of war.
Space, History, and Modernity in Quito
In the seventeenth century, local Jesuits and Franciscans imagined Quito as the "new Rome." It was the origin of crusades into the wilderness and the purveyor of civilization to the entire region. By the early twentieth century, elites envisioned the city as the heart of a modern, advanced society—poised at the physical and metaphysical centers of the world. In this original cultural history, Ernesto Capello analyzes the formation of memory, myth, and modernity through the eyes of Quito's diverse populations. By employing Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of chronotopes, Capello views the configuration of time and space in narratives that defined Quito's identity and its place in the world. He explores the proliferation of these imaginings in architecture, museums, monuments, tourism, art, urban planning, literature, religion, indigenous rights, and politics. To Capello, these tropes began to crystallize at the end of the nineteenth century, serving as a tool for distinct groups who laid claim to history for economic or political gain during the upheavals of modernism. In the process of both destroying and renewing elements of the past, modern Quito thus emerged at the crux of Hispanism and Liberalism, as an independent global society struggling to keep the memory of its colonial and indigenous roots alive.
Garden and Forest Magazine and the Rise of American Environmentalism
The weekly magazine Garden and Forest existed for only nine years (1888–1897). Yet, in that brief span, it brought to light many of the issues that would influence the future of American environmentalism. In The City Natural, Shen Hou presents the first “biography” of this important but largely overlooked vehicle for individuals with the common goal of preserving nature in American civilization. As Hou’s study reveals, Garden and Forest was instrumental in redefining the fields of botany and horticulture, while also helping to shape the fledgling professions of landscape architecture and forestry. The publication actively called for reform in government policy, urban design, and future planning for the preservation and inclusion of nature in cities. It also attempted to shape public opinion on these issues through a democratic ideal that every citizen had the right (and need) to access nature. These notions would anticipate the conservation and “city beautiful” movements that followed in the early twentieth century. Hou explains the social and environmental conditions that led to the rise of reform efforts, organizations, and publications such as Garden and Forest. She reveals the intellectual core and vision of the magazine as a proponent of the city natural movement that sought to relate nature and civilization through the arts and sciences. Garden and Forest was a staunch advocate of urban living made better through careful planning and design. As Hou shows, the publication also promoted forest management and preservation, not only as a natural resource but as an economic one. She also profiles the editors and contributors who set the magazine’s tone and follows their efforts to expand America’s environmental expertise. Through the pages of Garden and Forest, the early period of environmentalism was especially fruitful and optimistic; many individuals joined forces for the benefit of humankind and helped lay the foundation for a coherent national movement. Shen Hou’s study gives Garden and Forest its due and adds an important new chapter to the early history of American environmentalism.