History, Villagers, and the Social Scientists: Wrestling with the Past in the Present Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • What is the relationship between the historical Soviet countryside and the post-Soviet present both for the scholars who study them and for the population that inhabits them? Together Margaret Paxson, Solovyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village; Jessica Allina-Pisano, The Post-Soviet Potemkin Village: Politics and Property Rights in the Black Earth; and Douglas Rogers, The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals create a rich, nuanced portrait of contemporary rural life in parts of the former Soviet Union. When one reads the three books together, one finds evidence of interesting continuity alongside dynamism and change that varies depending on the region and on the questions that motivated the researcher. The three works ask in varied ways how individuals in post-Soviet society perceive their world and attempt to live in it. The three studies extend far and wide across the territory of the former Soviet Union: Solovyovo, three hundred miles north of Moscow; the Black Earth, more than four hundred miles to the south; and Sepych, about one thousand miles to the east.

publication date

  • 2012