Volume 74 Number 4 Abstracts

Heroes, Victims, Role Models: Representing the Child Soldiers of the Warsaw Uprising

Ewa Stańczyk

This article explores narratives surrounding child soldiers in Poland, with a particular focus on the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. My discussion examines a variety of contexts in which this figure appears, such as urban spaces, press debates, popular literature, and educational games, and unpacks the taboos associated with cultural constructions of childhood. The article points to the complex interaction between the enduring narratives of resistance and the struggle for independence which characterize Poland and the international humanitarian discourse on the use of children in war which goes beyond the local context. More generally, I show that the representations of Warsaw’s young insurgents speak less of the children and their rights and more of contemporary notions of Polish national identity, the nation’s wished-for or projected development, and collective hopes and fears in the wake of its accession to the European Union.


Tandeta (Trash): Bruno Schulz and the Micropolitics of Everyday Life

George Gasyna

In The Street of Crocodiles, Bruno Schulz delineates a startling vision of his hometown of Drohobycz as a space governed by second-hand cast-offs of metropolitan modernity and posits the artist as a demiurge who reigns over an accumulation of matter. Seeking escape from the shabbiness and tedium of daily life, the narrator plunges into an imaginary zone of his own making, one marked by temporal distortion, spatial instability, and the superabundance of matter, trash in particular. In the province, trash-as well as other “trashy” objects (tandeta and bylejako¶ć)-can be put to novel creative uses. It is thus possible to speak of a poetics of trash, wherein civilizational detritus returns to the foreground as a productive mode of representation and of micropolitical resistance. It is reterritorialized in Schulz as an archive of individual longings and desires and an index of local achievement. Trash, then, both as physical tandeta and as a key component of dream-work, emerges as a unifying sign of Schulz’s provincial poetics.

“I Know What Motivation Is”: The Politics of Emotion and Viktor Shklovskii’s Sentimental Rhetoric

Rad Borislavov

This article discusses Viktor Shklovskii’s exilic narratives of the early 1920s, Sentimental Journey: Memoirs, 1917-1922, and Zoo, or Letters Not about Love. I suggest that in these texts, published in Berlin shortly after the show trial against the right Socialist Revolutionaries, Shklovskii casts himself as a “sentimental hero,” evoking sympathy for the narrator’s plight by mobilizing some of the devices of the sentimental novel but also struggling with the implications of this sentimentalism. The article outlines Shklovskii’s attempts to prove his political reliability during his exile, juxtaposing his private correspondence with his memoirs, and argues for a more nuanced interpretation of Shklovskii’s political biography through the prism of the history of emotions.

The Sacralization of Violence: Bolshevik Justifications for Violence and Terror during the Civil War

James Ryan

This article explores some of the principal themes in the intellectual history of early Soviet state violence. I argue that political religions theory, as applied principally to understanding fascism, is especially useful for understanding Leninism and Bolshevik justifications of violence during the civil war. In addition to its principal focus on the relationship between violence and the Bolshevik conception of the sacred, the article examines the significance of Bolshevik punitive discourse more generally and the alternative currents in the approaches to violence and repression. In comparing the approaches of the Chekas and the Soviet Justice Commissariat to repression, it becomes apparent that distinctly more reformatory and more repressive strands of thought coexisted in the early Soviet state. Yet these distinctions were fluid, and the overtly medicalized nature of Bolshevik punitive discourse ensured a certain harmonization of these strands.

Where Was the Conscience of the Revolution? The Military Opposition at the Eighth Party Congress (March 1919)

Gayle Lonergan

This article examines the debates and decisions of the military section of the Eighth Party Congress of March 1919, only released in Izvestiia TsK KPSS in 1989-90. It rebuts the standard interpretation of the military section (usually referred to as the Military Opposition) as a minority platform opposed to the use of former tsarist officers in the Red Army, most notably proposed in R. V. Daniels’s The Conscience of the Revolution: Communist Opposition in Soviet Russia (1960). Instead, I argue that the debates were more concerned with the military’s increasing autonomy at the expense of party control. These fears were compounded by the introduction of the mass conscription of an apolitical peasantry at a time of extreme instability. This indiscriminate conscription had alarmed many Red Army party workers, who were only too aware of the dangers of arming an unconscious peasant mob. In addition, the article lays bare the beginning of the longer-term conflict between Iosif Stalin and Lev Trotskii and demonstrates Stalin’s early influence within the party membership.

Imperial Incarcerations: Ekaterina Breshko-Breshkovskaia, Vinayak Savarkar, and the Original Sins of Modernity

Choi Chatterjee

Based on a comparison of the prison experiences of Ekaterina Breshko-Breshkovskaia, member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party of Russia, and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, revolutionary and Hindu fundamentalist, I ask two central questions: How did Breshkovskaia’s story about exile and punishment help establish the tsarist genealogy of the gulag in the western consciousness, while the suffering of political prisoners in British India,as exemplified by Savarkar,were completely occluded? How and why did the specificity of incarceration in the Russian empire eclipse systems of punishment designed by other European empires in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?In this article, I argue that the penumbra of modernity was darkened not only by the savagery of the Holocaust and the gulag but also by the brutal violence of westernimperialism.Placing the Russian prison and exile system in comparative global perspective opens up new avenues of research in a field that has relied excessively on the intellectual binaries of a repressive Russia and a liberal western Europe.