From: Dacha Idylls

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175 1. dacha enchantments 1. The word dacha is also used in other parts of Europe, most notably Berlin , where small urban plots of land with gardens and sheds are known as datcha (Heide Castañeda, personal communication). 2. Although dachas are not entirely absent in accounts of pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-Soviet life (e.g., Pesmen 2000; Ries 1997), accounts focus primarily on the self-provisioning activities and social relationships that take place at dachas, so that the larger “dacha life” remains peripheral. 3. Although Lovell identifies a need for the anthropological study of dacha gardens as a way to understand Russian society (2003:229), my own work on this topic and my own sense that this was an important topic to explore precedes Lovell’s call. 4. Lovell also notes that dacha became synonymous with villa in nineteenthcentury accounts (Lovell 2003:30), a connection that appears in English translations of Russian dacha literature. 5. Distinctions between “us” and “them,” where “us” refers to the population and “them” to the state, as well as more fluid distinctions between “ours” and “not ours,” are common tropes of self-making in Russian daily life. See also Caldwell 2002. 6. Caroline Humphrey has argued that the name villa used for these structures designates their status as “private property and a demonstration of wealth,” markers of Russia’s new economic, rather than political, elites (Humphrey 2002:186). 7. Lovell links the emergence of Russia’s twentieth-century garden culture to the revival of the “garden plot movement” in the 1950s, when the Soviet state actively organized garden collectives (2003:191). Lovell also observes that his informants trace the use of the word dacha to indicate both cottage and garden simultaneously to the 1960s (2003:199). Notes 176 | Notes to Pages 13–36 8. See also Ries’s discussion (1997:27–28) of the various meanings associated with narod. 9. In a subsequent discussion of the significance of land for these ideas of biological relationships, Paxson writes, “Rodina, the land of the rod [i.e., genus, lineage ], is kin and rodina is earth. When it is of the earth, a rodina can nearly smell with local soils; when it is Mother Russia, it is a vast expanse that one loves. . . . Being rodnoi is a special form of being svoi [i.e., one’s own, part of a collective], with an emphasis on the fact that the soil and kin are shared” (Paxson 2005:84). 10. See Skultans 1998 for a fascinating treatment of partisans who lived and fought in the Latvian forests during World War II. 11. For a chillingly normal account of neofascist youths who gather at dachas in the countryside to roast shashlyk and eat berries while honing their skill at violence , see Ross Kemp’s account of the National Socialist Party in Russia in the episode on Russia in his series Ross Kemp on Gangs, available at .com/watch?v=LI4Q4RhvGNk (accessed September 4, 2008). I thank Madeleine Reeves for directing me to this documentary series. I thank Zachary Bowden for the information about Russian punks who retreat to their dachas for drinking fests (zapoi) and squat with European friends on vegan dacha retreats (personal communication , spring 2007). 12. The nomenklatura was a system of appointments to all decision-making positions throughout the Soviet party-state and whose unparalleled importance made it colloquially synonymous with the elite or ruling class itself. 13. My orientation to the perspectives and experiences of “middle-class” Russians resembles that of Naomi Galtz in her dissertation research on Russian dachas (Galtz 2000). Her work, like mine, presents an important departure from studies that have emphasized dacha culture among elites (for example, Lovell 2003, or Humphrey 1998 on New Russian “villas”). Like Galtz, I also recognize the challenges posed by using labels such as “middle class” and seek to find a more appropriate way to capture the diverse experiences of ordinary Russians. 14. The lifestyles and building practices of upper-class dachniki have been addressed elsewhere (e.g., Humphrey 1998). 2. intimate irritations: living with chekhov at the dacha 1. By many accounts, the estate of Abramtsevo was the inspiration for Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard. For a fascinating and comprehensive account of Russian estate life among Russia’s artists and intellectuals, complete with beautiful illustrations , see Roosevelt 1995. 2. Translations of Gorky’s Dachniki are mine. 3. For an excellent historical discussion of the literary and political context of Gorky...