When people think of Russian food, they generally think either of the opulent luxury of the tsarist aristocracy or of post-Soviet elites, signified above all by caviar, or on the other hand of poverty and hunger—of cabbage and potatoes and porridge. Both of these visions have a basis in reality, but both are incomplete. The history of food and drink in Russia includes fasts and feasts, scarcity and, for some, at least, abundance. It includes dishes that came out of the northern, forested regions and ones that incorporate foods from the wider Russian Empire and later from the Soviet Union. Cabbage and Caviar places Russian food and drink in the context of Russian history and shows off the incredible (and largely unknown) variety of Russian food.
In a dual biography crafted around the famous encounter between the French philosopher who wrote about power and the Russian empress who wielded it with great aplomb, Robert Zaretsky invites us to reflect on the fraught relationship between politics and philosophy, and between a man of thought and a woman of action.
During the tumultuous 1990s, as Russia struggled to shed the trappings of the Soviet empire, television viewing emerged as an enormous influence on Russian life. The number of viewers who routinely watch the nightly news in Russia matches the number of Americans who tune in to the Super Bowl, thus making TV coverage the prized asset for which political leaders intensely—and sometimes violently—compete. In this revised and expanded edition of Changing Channels, Ellen Mickiewicz provides many fascinating insights, describing the knowing ways in which ordinary Russians watch the news, skeptically analyze information, and develop strategies for dealing with news bias. Covering the period from the state-controlled television broadcasts at the end of the Soviet Union through the attempted coup against Gorbachev, the war in Chechnya, the presidential election of 1996, and the economic collapse of 1998, Mickiewicz draws on firsthand research, public opinion surveys, and many interviews with key players, including Gorbachev himself. By examining the role that television has played in the struggle to create political pluralism in Russia, she reveals how this struggle is both helped and hindered by the barrage of information, advertisements, and media-created personalities that populate the airwaves. Perhaps most significantly, she shows how television has emerged as the sole emblem of legitimate authority and has provided a rare and much-needed connection from one area of this huge, crisis-laden country to the next. This new edition of Changing Channels will be valued by those interested in Russian studies, politics, media and communications, and cultural studies, as well as general readers who desire an up-to-date view of crucial developments in Russia at the end of the twentieth century.
From about 1600 to 1800, the Qing empire of China expanded to unprecedented size. Through astute diplomacy, economic investment, and a series of ambitious military campaigns into the heart of Central Eurasia, the Manchu rulers defeated the Zunghar Mongols, and brought all of modern Xinjiang and Mongolia under their control, while gaining dominant influence in Tibet. The China we know is a product of these vast conquests.
Peter C. Perdue chronicles this little-known story of China's expansion into the northwestern frontier. Unlike previous Chinese dynasties, the Qing achieved lasting domination over the eastern half of the Eurasian continent. Rulers used forcible repression when faced with resistance, but also aimed to win over subject peoples by peaceful means. They invested heavily in the economic and administrative development of the frontier, promoted trade networks, and adapted ceremonies to the distinct regional cultures.
Perdue thus illuminates how China came to rule Central Eurasia and how it justifies that control, what holds the Chinese nation together, and how its relations with the Islamic world and Mongolia developed. He offers valuable comparisons to other colonial empires and discusses the legacy left by China's frontier expansion. The Beijing government today faces unrest on its frontiers from peoples who reject its autocratic rule. At the same time, China has launched an ambitious development program in its interior that in many ways echoes the old Qing policies.
China Marches West is a tour de force that will fundamentally alter the way we understand Central Eurasia.
The Circassian Genocide
Richmond, Walter Rutgers University Press, 2013 Library of Congress DK34.C57R53 2013 | Dewey Decimal 947.081
Circassia was a small independent nation on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea. For no reason other than ethnic hatred, over the course of hundreds of raids the Russians drove the Circassians from their homeland and deported them to the Ottoman Empire. At least 600,000 people lost their lives to massacre, starvation, and the elements while hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homeland. By 1864, three-fourths of the population was annihilated, and the Circassians had become one of the first stateless peoples in modern history.
Using rare archival materials, Walter Richmond chronicles the history of the war, describes in detail the final genocidal campaign, and follows the Circassians in diaspora through five generations as they struggle to survive and return home. He places the periods of acute genocide, 1821–1822 and 1863–1864, in the larger context of centuries of tension between the two nations and updates the story to the present day as the Circassian community works to gain international recognition of the genocide as the region prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the site of the Russians’ final victory.
Countess Sofia Panina lived a remarkable life. Born into an aristocratic family in imperial Russia, she found her true calling in improving the lives of urban workers. Her passion for social service and reputation as the "Red Countess" led her to political prominence after the fall of the Romanovs. She became the first woman to hold a cabinet position and the first political prisoner tried by the Bolsheviks. The upheavals of the 1917 Revolution forced her to flee her beloved country, but instead of living a quiet life in exile she devoted the rest of her long life to humanitarian efforts on behalf of fellow refugees.
Based on Adele Lindenmeyr's detailed research in dozens of archival collections, Citizen Countess establishes Sofia Panina as an astute eyewitness to and passionate participant in the historical events that shaped her life. Her experiences shed light on the evolution of the European nobility, women's emancipation and political influence of the time, and the fate of Russian liberalism.
What is the “real Russia”? What is the relationship between national dreams and kitsch, between political and artistic utopia and everyday existence? Commonplaces of daily living would be perfect clues for those seeking to understand a culture. But all who write big books on Russian life confess their failure to get properly inside Russia, to understand its “doublespeak.”
Svetlana Boym is a unique guide. A member of the last Soviet Generation, the Russian equivalent of our Generation X, she grew up in Leningrad and has lived in the West for the past thirteen years. Her book provides a view of Russia that is historically informed, replete with unexpected detail, and everywhere stamped with authority. Alternating analysis with personal accounts of Russian life, Boym conveys the foreignness of Russia and examines its peculiar conceptions of private life and common good, of Culture and Trash, of sincerity and banality. Armed with a Dictionary of Untranslatable Terms, we step around Uncle Fedia asleep in the hall, surrounded by a puddle of urine, and enter the Communal Apartment, the central exhibit of the book. It is the ruin of the communal utopia and a unique institution of Soviet daily life; a model Soviet home and a breeding ground for grassroots informants. Here, privacy is forbidden; here the inhabitants defiantly treasure their bits of “domestic trash,” targets of ideological campaigns for the transformation (perestroika) of everyday life.
Against the Russian and Soviet myths of national destiny, the trivial, the ordinary, even the trashy, take on a utopian dimension. Boym studies Russian culture in a broad sense of the word; she ranges from nineteenth- and twentieth-century intellectual thought to art and popular culture. With her we go walking in Moscow and Leningrad, eavesdrop on domestic life, and discover jokes, films, and TV programs. Boym then reflects on the 1991 coup that marked the end of the Soviet Union and evoked fin-de-siècle apocalyptic visions. The book ends with a poignant reflection on the nature of communal utopia and nostalgia, on homesickness and the sickness of being home.
Nikolai Gogol was an artist who, like Rabelais, Cervantes, Swift, and Sterne, "knew how to walk upside down in our valley of sorrows so as to make it to a merry place." This two-volume edition at last brings all of Gogol's fiction (except his novel Dead Souls) together in paperback. Volume 1 includes Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka, the early Ukrainian folktales that first brought Gogol fame, as well as "Nevsky Prospekt" and "Diary of a Madman."
"It is good to have a complete collection of Gogol's tales in paperback. . . . Professor Kent has thoroughly revised Mrs. Garnett's conscientious and skillful translation, eliminating the Victorianisms of her style, correcting mistakes and pruderies of diction, and making the whole translation sound much more contemporary and alive. But he has avoided the whimsicality and 'curliness' in which some recent translators indulged, and he has not changed or suppressed anything material. He has also supplied helpful notes which are often the first annotation in English, and he has written an introduction which steers the correct middle course between making Gogol an irresponsible artist of the grotesque and proving him a documentary historian of backward Russia."—René Wellek, Yale University
Volume 2 of The Complete Tales includes Gogol's Mirgorod stories—among them that masterpiece of grotesque comedy, "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich," the wonderfully satiric "Old World Landowners," and the Cossak epic "Taras Bulba." Here also is "The Nose," Gogol's final effort in the realm of the fantastic, as well as "The Coach," "The Portrait" (in its final version), and the most influential of his Petersburg stories, "The Overcoat."
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.
Davidson, Lawrence Rutgers University Press, 2012 Library of Congress HM1121.D375 2012 | Dewey Decimal 305.8009
Most scholars of genocide focus on mass murder. Lawrence Davidson, by contrast, explores the murder of culture. He suggests that when people have limited knowledge of the culture outside of their own group, they are unable to accurately assess the alleged threat of others around them. Throughout history, dominant populations have often dealt with these fears through mass murder. However, the shock of the Holocaust now deters today’s great powers from the practice of physical genocide. Majority populations, cognizant of outside pressure and knowing that they should not resort to mass murder, have turned instead to cultural genocide as a “second best” politically determined substitute for physical genocide.
In Cultural Genocide, this theory is applied to events in four settings, two events that preceded the Holocaust and two events that followed it: the destruction of American Indians by uninformed settlers who viewed these natives as inferior and were more intent on removing them from the frontier than annihilating them; the attack on the culture of Eastern European Jews living within Russian-controlled areas before the Holocaust; the Israeli attack on Palestinian culture; and the absorption of Tibet by the People’s Republic of China.
In conclusion, Davidson examines the mechanisms that may be used to combat today’s cultural genocide as well as the contemporary social and political forces at work that must be overcome in the process.