Throughout the twentieth century and continuing today, personifications of Russia as a bride occur in a wide range of Russian texts and visual representations, from literature and political and philosophical treatises to cartoons and tattoos. Invariably, this metaphor functions in the context of a political gender allegory, which represents the relationships between Russia, the intelligentsia, and the Russian state, as a competition of two male suitors for the former’s love.
In Unattainable Bride Russia, Ellen Rutten focuses on the metaphorical role the intelligentsia plays as Russia’s rejected or ineffectual suitor. Rutten finds that this metaphor, which she covers from its prehistory in folklore to present-day pop culture references to Vladimir Putin, is still powerful, but has generated scarce scholarly consideration. Unattainable Bride Russia locates the cultural thread and places the political metaphor in a broad contemporary and social context, thus paying it the attention to which it is entitled as one of Russia’s modern cultural myths.
Under the Influence presents the first investigation of the social, cultural, and political factors that affected drinking and temperance among Russian and Soviet industrial workers from 1895 to 1932. Kate Transchel examines the many meanings of working-class drinking and temperance in a variety of settings, from Moscow to remote provinces, and illuminates the cultural conflicts and class dynamics that were deeply rooted in drinking rituals and the failure of attempted reforms by the Tsarist and Soviet authorities.
As the title suggests, workers were often under the influence of alcohol, but they were also under political influences that defined what it meant to be a Soviet worker. Perhaps more importantly, they were under deeper, prerevolutionary cultural influences that continued to shape lower-class identities after 1917. The more the Soviet state tried to control working-class drinking, the more workers resisted. Radical legislation, massive propaganda, and even coercion were not sufficient to motivate workers to abandon traditional forms of fraternization.
Under the Influence highlights working-class culture and underscores the limitations the Bolsheviks faced in attempting to create a cultural revolution to complete their social and political revolution.
A wide-ranging consideration of the nature and significance of Pushkin's African heritage
Roughly in the year 1705, a young African boy, acquired from the seraglio of the Turkish sultan, was transported to Russia as a gift to Peter the Great. This child, later known as Abram Petrovich Gannibal, was to become Peter's godson and to live to a ripe old age, having attained the rank of general and the status of Russian nobility. More important, he was to become the great-grandfather of Russia's greatest national poet, Alexander Pushkin. It is the contention of the editors of this book, borne out by the essays in the collection, that Pushkin's African ancestry has played the role of a "wild card" of sorts as a formative element in Russian cultural mythology; and that the ways in which Gannibal's legacy has been included in or excluded from Pushkin's biography over the last two hundred years can serve as a shifting marker of Russia's self-definition.
The first single volume in English on this rich topic, Under the Sky of My Africa addresses the wide variety of interests implicated in the question of Pushkin's blackness-race studies, politics, American studies, music, mythopoetic criticism, mainstream Pushkin studies. In essays that are by turns biographical, iconographical, cultural, and sociological in focus, the authors-representing a broad range of disciplines and perspectives-take us from the complex attitudes toward race in Russia during Pushkin's era to the surge of racism in late Soviet and post-Soviet contemporary Russia. In sum, Under the Sky of My Africa provides a wealth of basic material on the subject as well as a series of provocative readings and interpretations that will influence future considerations of Pushkin and race in Russian culture.
Can democratization be promoted by “getting the institutions right?” In Unexpected Outcomes, Robert G. Moser offers a compelling analysis of the extent to which institutions can be engineered to promote desired political outcomes. The introduction of democracy in Eastern Europe and the former USSR has enabled scholars to bring new perspectives to the debate about electoral systems. Russia is arguably the most important of the postcommunist states and its mixed electoral system provides an interesting controlled experiment for testing the impact of different electoral systems.
Moser examines the effects of electoral systems on political parties and representation in Russia during the 1990s. Moser’s study is not only a highly original contribution to our understanding of contemporary Russian politics, but also a significant step forward in the comparative study of electoral systems. Through his comprehensive empirical analysis of Russian elections, Moser provides the most detailed examination of a mixed electoral system to date. This system was introduced in Russia to encourage party formation and benefit reformist parties allied with President Yeltsin. However, the effects were contrary to what the creators of the system expected and also defied the most well-established hypotheses in electoral studies. Parties proliferated under both the PR and plurality halves of the election and patterns of women and minority representation ran counter to prevailing theory and international experience.
With an epilogue that updates the study through the December 1999 elections, Unexpected Outcomes makes an important and timely contribution to the ongoing debate over the ability and inability of elites to fashion preferred political outcomes through institutional design.
Eighteenth-century Danish explorer Vitus Bering led historic expeditions to the Russian Far East and Alaska under the patronage of Peter the Great, and his wife Anna Christina accompanied him on his expedition to Okhotsk in 1739. The sixteen letters that they wrote over the following year make up the core of this volume, which features facing-page translations from the original German. The documents offer an intimate look into eighteenth-century customs, as well as the explorer’s family life and daily routine. Also featured is an inventory of goods that Anna Christina brought back to Moscow after Bering’s death in 1742, revealing key insights into the types of goods available in Russia at the time. Until Death Do Us Part is a richly informative volume that will be essential for all those interested in European history and travel writing.
During the nineteenth century, literate Russians and educated American blacks encountered a dominant Western narrative of world civilization that seemed to ignore the histories of Slavs and African Americans. In response, generations of Russian and black American intellectuals have asserted eloquent counterclaims for the cultural significance of a collective national “soul” veiled from prejudiced Western eyes. Up from Bondage is the first study to parallel the evolution of Russian and African American cultural nationalism in literary works and philosophical writings. Illuminating a remarkably widespread cross-pollination between the two cultural and intellectual traditions, Dale E. Peterson frames much of his argument around W. E. B. DuBois’s concept of “double-consciousness,” wherein members of an oppressed section of society view themselves simultaneously through their own self-awareness and through the internalized standards of the dominant culture. He shows how the writings of Dostoevsky, Hurston, Chesnutt, Turgenev, Ellison, Wright, Gorky, and Naylor—texts that enacted and described this sense of double awareness—were used both to perform and to contest the established genres of Western literacy. Woven through Peterson’s textual analyses is his consideration of cultural hybridism and its effects: The writers he examines find multiple ways to testify to and challenge the symptoms of postcolonial trauma. After discussing the strong and significant affinity expressed by contemporary African American cultural theorists for the dialogic thought of Russian linguist Mikhail Bakhtin, Peterson argues that a fuller appreciation of the historic connection between the two cultures will enrich the complicated meanings of being black or Russian in a world that has traditionally avoided acknowledging pluralistic standards of civilization and cultural excellence. This investigation of comparable moments in the development of Russian and African American ethnic self-consciousness will be valuable to students and scholars of comparative literature, philosophy, cultural theory, ethnicity, linguistics, and postcolonialism, in addition to Slavic and African American studies.