Created by a group Leningrad and Moskow dissident the samizdat historical publication collection Pamiat' ("Memory") is one of the best-knowln editions in the history of Soviet dissident movement. The main of the feature of this collection is that unlike the informational, publicistic or literary dissident editions of the time, it was a distinctively academic, historic publcation. The first volume of the Pamiat' collection was put together in 1976. The initiator of the project is Arseny Roginsky, who was joinad by Larisa Bogoraz, Alexsandr Daniel, Sergey Deduln, Alexsandr Dobkin, Felix Perchonok, Dmitry Zubarev, Alexey Korotaev to work of the project. According to the initiator of the publication, its goal was to confront "the lies of official historiography" and to try and make the first steps towards recreating a "true history" of Soviet society.
Yury Zaretskiy’s article examines the mass practice of composing formal autobiographies by Soviet citizens. The major part of the study covers the period from the 1950s to the 1980s when the Soviet records management protocol requested this type of document from individuals belonging to different social groups and of different occupations. Yury Zaretskiy reviews the concrete social circumstances in which the narrative structure of formal autobiographies was fashioned before moving on to argue that their final addressee was the Soviet state, that their content changed in line with political and ideological changes in the USSR, that the practice of writing them had much in common with Christian confession, and that the spread of this practice among millions of people functioned as a mechanism of subjectification aimed at “making them Soviet.”
The article is a solicited contribution to the thematic cluster "Critical Forum on Ukraine". It rejects the explanatory model that treats values and cultures as being specially and civilizationally defined and critically utilizes the repertoire of postcolonial studies to assess the Ukrainian postcolonial condition.
The article presents the results of narrative analysis of contemporary European history textbooks’ coverage of the 1917 Russian Revolution. The sample consists of 101 textbooks from 22 European states, published between 2000 and 2015 and currently in use in secondary and high schools. The results show that the Russian Revolution, unlike most other events in Russia's history, is narrated as a story not about Russianness, but about shared European historical experiences and social issues. The article discusses the implications of this way of narrating the Russian Revolution for the perceived logic of European history.
“Featured Review” of J. Arch Getty, Practicing Stalinism: Bolsheviks, Boyars, and the Persistence of Tradition
Architectural practice in the Stalinist USSR saw the sudden and rapid revival of historical forms and styles. One approach interprets this development as part of a reactionary shift in Soviet temporal culture, a “Great Retreat” across all spheres of social and political life. The rival conception sees in historicism an aesthetic of “timelessness” and “perfection,” which expressed Stalinism’s self-characterization as an eternal, utopian present. This paper presents a third perspective, arguing that the revival of historicism stemmed, paradoxically, from a future-oriented impulse. This revolved around the charge that Stalinist architecture "immortalize the memory" of the era, to ensure posterity’s gratitude and admiration. Accordingly, Stalinist architects drew upon supposedly enduring historical styles, which they expected to remain understandable to future generations. Further, time-tested traditional materials, forms, and decorative mediums were employed to ensure the physical durability of Stalinist architectural monuments. The paper concludes by situating this logic in the global context of interwar monumental architecture and considering some implications for our understanding of Stalinist temporality.
Nikolai Charushin and Vera Figner, both populists of the “1870s generation,” late in their lives played a role in the events of 1917, responding first with tempered enthusiasm, and then with trepidation over the growing chaos and polarization that led up to the Bolshevik revolution in October. Highly active in the events of that year, seventies generation populists were on the losing side, and have open been criticized for misreading the situation in the country, having naïve beliefs or hegemonic and patronizing attitudes about the peasantry and little experience with real world politics. In fact, if their full life stories are taken into account, and especially the two decades before 1970, when after being released from incarceration and exile to return to European Russia, they were fully immersed in the activities of the zemstvo, local politics in general and newspaper affairs. Their caution, moderate stance and gradualism were based not so much on inexperience as on long exposure to the peasantry and the needs of the countryside as well as rather prescient awareness of the potential for catastrophe in the situation at that time.
Over the last twenty years Russia has experienced significant fluctuations in sentiments regarding the prospects and urgency of relocating the Russian capital city. In this article, Vadim Rossman examines the public debates on this topic, which have involved important Russian politicians, intellectuals, and members of various expert communities. In these debates, one can recognize several distinct new visions of society that emerged in the post-Soviet period. This article provides an overview and a critique of these debates and suggests that they should be viewed in the context of nation building, the slow emergence of the nation that was historically suppressed under the weight of the imperial ambitions of Russian statehood. In the background of these debates, the concept of self-identity looms large. National capitals can serve as catalysts for nation building and an instrument of the nation as it constitutes and constructs itself.
Review of Konservatory i zemstvo: Plany i rezul’taty deialel’nosti, 1864–1914 by Svetlana Gennadevna Kulikova, published in Moscow by Novyi Khronograf, 2019
Tracing the emergence of the Russian Far East as a new region of the Russian Empire, revolutionary Russia, and the Soviet Union through regionalist and imperialist discourses and policies, this article briefly discusses Russian expansion in the Pacific littoral, outlines the history of regionalism in North Asia during the revolutionary and early Soviet periods, and focuses on the activities of the Far Eastern Council of People's Commissars (Dal΄sovnarkom), the Far Eastern Republic (FER), and the Far Eastern Revolutionary Committee (Dal΄'revkom). Inspired by Siberian regionalism and other takes on post-imperial decentralization, the Bolshevik Aleksandr Mikhailovich Krasnoshchekov and other regional politicians became the makers of the new region from within. Meanwhile, the legacies of the empire's expansionism, the Bolshevik “new imperialism” in Asia, and the Japanese military presence in the region during the Russian Civil War accompanied the consolidation of the Russian Far East.
Review on: Crimea in War and Transformation by Mara Kozelsky (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. xiv, 280 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Illustrations. Photographs. Figures. Tables. Maps. $74.00, hard bound).
A gift to Joseph Stalin from the “toiling masses” of Buyriat-Mongol Autonomous Republic
on occasion of the republic’s twenty-fi ft h anniversary in 1948 was a traditional
Buryat costume with a wide belt in the form of a chain of silver buckles. Each buckle
depicts an achievement of Soviet modernity: industry, agriculture—and enlightenment,
as on one buckle a lamp is hammered casting light over an open book and
musical instruments (Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov, ed. Gift s to Soviet Leaders, 2006, 101).
It is as if the very body of the Buryat nation is a traditionally dressed male fi gure
whose silhouette is emphasized by modernity. Melissa Chakar’s insightful, concise
and clearly written book is a historical account of such Soviet framing of twentiethcentury
By February 1917, the handful of future Bolshevik leaders of Russia were scattered all over the globe. Among the few things they had in common was a peculiar vision of the Russian economy and of global economic trends. That vision guided their revolutionary activity. Whether it was “correct” or not, they succeeded. With their grip on power secured, however, their economic reasoning had to confront new challenges, which eventually reshaped the original approach. The article reconstructs the origins of the Bolshevik economics and traces its developments after 1917.
Central Russia’s Riazan province was on the front lines of World War II for two weeks in late 1941. Placed between German and Soviet forces, the province was on the edges of authorities unable to exert full control over the region. In that time, Soviet power dissolved in the countryside. Peasants raided warehouses and dismantled collective farms while enterprising local notables aided the embryonic occupation regime. Documents created during the two weeks and their immediate aftermath show that rural Russians, even collaborators, defied simple classification as anti-Soviet. Instead, they exhibited survivalist instincts and a traditional antipathy toward central authority rather than a preference for either German or Soviet power. As Soviet power returned to Riazan, authorities grappled with the mass upheaval that the power vacuum had enabled. Unlike later interpretations, which would stress the role of German atrocities in occupation regimes, Riazan authorities blamed “anti-Soviet elements” among the province’s population.
This article uses the materials of the Drezdensha affair, a large-scale investigation of “indecency” in St. Petersburg in 1750, to explore unofficial sociability among the Imperial elite, and to map out the institutional, social, and economic dimensions of the post-Petrine “sexual underworld.” Sociability and, ultimately, the public sphere in eighteenth century Russia are usually associated with loftier practices, with joining the ranks of the reading public, reflecting on the public good, and generally, becoming more civil and polite. Yet, it is the privately-run, commercially-oriented, and sexually-charged “parties” at the focus of this article that arguably served as a “training ground” for developing the habits of sociability. The world of these “parties” provide a missing link between the debauchery and carousing of Peter I’s era and the more polite formats of associational life in the late eighteenth century, as well as the historical context for reflections on morality, sexual licentiousness, foppery, and the excesses of “westernization.”