Volume 57 Number 4 Abstracts

The Scare of the Self: Sentimentalism, Privacy, and Private Life in Russian Culture, 1780-1820

Andreas Schönle

This paper analyzes the Russian Sentimentalist discourse about privacy under four categories: public life and public places, social groups, morals, as well as reading and writing. Sources for this inquiry consist primarily of travelogues. The paper demonstrates that the Sentimental travelogue promotes loyalty to public bodies and seeks to weaken boundaries marking off a private sphere. The travelogue does this in response to an insufficiently regulated public life. Since the law and social institutions failed to enforce objectified, binding rules of behavior, the need was felt to propagate a particular discourse, an ideology of sorts, that would discourage individuals from fashioning themselves in too idiosyncratic a fashion. This discourse spread what I call a scare of the self, a reluctance to heed the desire for psychological and moral autonomy and to explore the interiority and subjectivity of one's self.

'No Place to Lay my Head': Marginalization and the Right to Land during the Stolypin Reforms

Corinne Gaudin

Even in those regions of the Russian Empire where the Stolypin reforms did little to destroy the commune, the 9 November 1906 decree posed a serious challenge to existing definitions of communal membership. The very ability of peasants to file for a land title gave rise to numerous disputes over the issue of who had the right to claim communal land. These disputes, involving conflicting references to claim rights, "property" rights, law and custom not only defied the logic of the November 9 legislation; their outcome would result in the exclusion and disinheritance of otkhodniki and widows who had enjoyed at least temporary and conditional access to land before 1906. Communes were able take advantage of the vagueness of the legislation, as well as the confusion among the administrators charged with supervising the implementation of the reforms, to effectively limit the impact of the new land laws. Such opportunistic use of legislation did not bode well for the hopes of some officials that the reforms would instill in peasants a respect for the law and an understanding of the concept of private property.

Portrait of a Con Artist as a Soviet Man

Golfo Alexopoulos

In 1935, Vladimir Gromov was sentenced to death as a prominent false specialist and swindler. While in solitary confinement in Moscow's Taganka prison, the graphomaniac wrote an elaborate play which prompted the Soviet Union's highest-ranking legal and literary officials to seriously explore its artistic merits, and perhaps even spare his life. Gromov's case reveals the activities which Stalinism both propagated and severely punished. His life demonstrates that individual behavior and identity was shaped not only by the coercive and didactic elements of Stalin's rule, but by the particular limits of Soviet power and manipulations of the Soviet order which were possible in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as the theatricality and hyperbole of Stalinist political culture. Stalinism created a citizen entirely in its own image and likeness, someone who was not disciplined and orderly but theatrical and hyperbolic, who fashioned a self which mirrored Stalin's own.

Origins of a Gulag Capital: Magadan and Stalinist Control in the Early 1930s

David J. Nordlander

This article concerns the evolution and administration of a major camp region at the beginning of the Stalin era. The history of Dal'stroi, an acronym for Far Northern Construction Trust that stood as a euphemism for the prison camps that included the infamouys Kolyma and stretched from the Lena River to the Chukotka Peninsula, will help us close a conspicuous "blank spot" in our comprehension of Soviet history. In terms of my argument in this essay, I rely on archival records from both Moscow and Magadan to add a new perspective on the long-debated nature of the center-periphery conflict that in many ways defines the essence of Stalinism. The time is propitious for such a reevaluation of major issues, for the current state of Russian historiography has provided an almost revolutionary framework to reanalyze many questions from the past. My main conclusion is that Stalin's role in the management of Dal'stroi proved overwhelming and points toward the necessity of reshaping some of the revisionist paradigms that sought to minimize his authoritarian status. While acknowledging that Magadan presents an unusual case study, I must maintain that evidence from such a "police province" offers a revealing window on key aspects of Soviet governance. Although the impact of Stalinist rule may have varied according to place and time, the fact that Stalin retained a firm grip on a region so far from the Kremlin speaks volumes about his influence closer to Moscow.

From Ethnic Borderland to Catholic Fatherland: The Church, Christian Orthodox and State Administration in the Che^m Region, 1918-1939

Konrad Sadkowski

The Catholic clergy and Bishop Maryan Fulman of the Lublin diocese played a key role in Polish nation and state building in the ethnically and religiously sensitive Che^m borderland region between the World Wars, an extension of the greater goal of building a Catholic Poland. Church people staunchly maintained the view that had the Russian state not abolished the Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church there in 1875 and imposed Eastern Orthodoxy on the Uniate Ruthenian (Ukrainian) population, the existing Orthodox would earlier have been polonized. Rigid anti-Orthodoxy was reinforced by a strong "martyrology" of the region. When Orthodoxy continued to develop in the Che^m region through the mid-1920s, the Catholic clergy intensified their actions. In the late 1920s the clergy, and late 1930s Bishop Fulman (after the failure of the Byzantine Slavonic rite), were involved in the administration's liquidation of "superfluous" Orthodox (mostly once Uniate) churches to suppress Ukrainian nationalism and polonize the Orthodox. The critical role of the Catholic Church in local nation and state building is conveyed through deanery conference minutes, letters and military documents.

Postsocialist Nationalism: Rediscovering the Past in Southeast Poland

Chris Hann

This article draws on historical and contemporary field materials to explore the rise of ethnic identities and nationalism in and around the Polish border city of Przemyl. Although the ethnographic details are specific to this region and concern Poland and Ukraine, comparable patterns can be found elsewhere in the Eastern Europe. The future orientation of the socialist period inhibited analyses of past inter-group relations, but the preeminent importance of national identity was not challenged. The nationalists of the postsocialist period ground their legitimation in history. In this region of Poland the sharpest conflicts of recent years have concerned church property and the most powerful justificatory symbols have been drawn from violent events of the presocialist decades. Vociferous activist groups have confirmed national identity as the most fundamental principle of postsocialist cultural ordering. They have achieved this not merely through emotive discourse strategies but through skillful exploitation of the political and economic conditions of postsocialism.

Paradigms, Pathologies, and Other Clues to Russian Spiritual Culture: Some Post-Soviet Thoughts

Laura Engelstein

In the post-Soviet era, scholars of Russian history and culture have been rethinking the questions they ask and the methods they use. By adopting the strategies of cultural studies, some have examined patterns and processes neglected by social history, on the one hand, and narrowly textual literary studies, on the other. The best of this work reframes questions and suggests new conclusions. In some cases, however, the cultural approach replicates old paradigms: in particular, the notion of Russia as unusually prone to spiritual enthusiasm, peculiarly susceptible to the sway of extreme ideas, and indeed driven by religious-utopian thought structures, from which it cannot break away. Such reasoning is sometimes based on faulty reasoning or poor use of evidence; the resurgence of tired assumptions is not inherent in a cultural approach, which has creative potential.