The “Russian” Civil Wars, 1916–1926: Ten Years That Shook the World by Jonathan D. Smele (Review)
Jonathan D. Smele’s comprehensive account fits well into the prolonged centenary of the Russian imperial crisis marked by the Great War, the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the protracted conflict that the author calls the “‘Russian’ Civil Wars.” The book is a valuable addition to the new body of literature that will, hopefully, bring about a better understanding of one of the bloodiest civil wars in human history, provide convincing answers to some of the many remaining questions about its causes and consequences, and uncover new blind zones in the plethora of events that unfolded in Northern Eurasia between 1916 and 1926.
This monograph was developed as part of a larger research project entitled Peculiarities of National Identity of Lithuania and Belarus in the Context of European Integration, the aim of which was to conduct a comparative analysis of national identity in these two proximate but very different nation-states. The work was carried out by researchers at Belarusian State University (Minsk, Belarus), Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas, Lithuania) and the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota, USA). The research was conducted in accordance with an agreement between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania on matters regarding cooperation in science and technology as determined by the State Committee on Science and Technology of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania.
Since the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union the historiography of revolutionary Russia has developed a distinct provincial turn. The opening of Soviet central and provincial archives provided new research opportunities to historians. Numerous articles and volumes focusing on Russia’s provinces have since appeared on both sides of the former Soviet border, and the historiography of the Russian revolution matured with an accelerated speed to account for multiple local variables. The understanding of multiplicity of local experiences profoundly changed and challenged the historical interpretations of the crisis that played out in Russia from 1917 to 1921. The article discusses the variety of local revolutionary experiences as they are revealed in recent historiography, but also focuses on some larger themes and issues where this regional perspective provides new insights and affects the general understanding of the Russian revolution. In particular, it discusses the factors contributing to the disintegration and reconstruction of the state, including the patterns and meaning of power in a provincial context, mechanisms of popular mobilization in the civil-war period including in Russia’s non-Russian regions, as well as transition to peace.
“Empire Speaks Out” is a result of the collaborative international research project whose participants aim to reconstruct the origin, development, and changing modes of self-description and representation of the heterogeneous political, social, and cultural space of the Russian Empire. The collection offers an alternative to the study of empire as an essentialized historical phenomenon, i.e. to those studies that construe empire retrospectively by projecting the categories of modern nation-centered social sciences onto the imperial past. It stresses dynamic transformations, adaptation, and reproduction of imperial patterns of sociability and governance. Chapters of the collection show how languages of rationalization derived from modern public politics, scientific discourses of applied knowledge (law, sociology, political economy, geography, ethnography, physical anthropology) and social self-organization influenced processes of transformation of the imperial space.
The diverse and contested nature of the contemporary skinhead scene makes it impossible to identify a single common body regime, or set of gender norms, characteristic of the skinhead (sub)culture. This chapter explores one example of how these fraternal bonds and spaces are constituted. It pays particular attention to practices of the body (individual and collective) within the group and how these practices were enacted to confirm its skinhead identity while shaping a particular regime of closeness and intimacy. It considers, firstly, the group as a particular form of fraternity based on homosocial bonds of friendship, closeness and (dis)trust. Secondly, the aesthetics and the ethics of intimacy within the group are discussed. In particular practices of displaying the – naked and bare – body of the skinhead are considered as well as tests of, and conflicts over, the meaning of the intimacies that these practices forge. Finally, the chapter explores these practices in the context of the wider and competing masculinities through which they are enacted.
Russia’s Skinheads: exploring and rethinking subcultural lives provides a through examination of the phenomenon of skinheads, explaining its nature and its significance, and assessing how far Russian skinhead subculture is at the “lumpen” end of the extreme nationalist ideological spectrum. There are large numbers of skinheads in Russia, responsible for a significant number of xenophobic attacks, including 97 deaths in 2008 alone, making this book relevant to Russian specialists as well as to sociologists of youth subculture. It provides a practical example of how to investigate youth subculture in depth over an extended period – in this case through empirical research following a specific group over six years – and goes on to argue that Russian skinhead subculture is not a direct import from the West, and that youth cultural practices should not be reduced to expressions of consumer choice. It presents an understanding of the Russian skinheads as a product of individuals` whole, and evolving, lives, and thereby compels sociologists to rethink how they conceive the nature of subcultures.
An analysis of the historical basis of Benya Krik (1926) film after I. Babel's script, directed by V. Vilner. More precisely, an analysis of how art transforms reality and then, in turn, forms our perceptions about historical reality. The film was quickly taken off the screen for 'poeticizing banditism'. The prototype for Benya Krik, the character of Babel's Oddesa Tales, is Mishka the Japanese. It was a nickname of Moisei Vinnitskiy - an Odessa raider and a commander of a Red Army unit, who was in the end killed in a Cheka operation.