Volume 59 Number 2 Abstracts

The Mobilization of 1914 and the Question of the Russian Nation: A Re-Examination

Josh Sanborn

This article argues that the outbreak of World War I was a watershed moment in Russian political history. Using underutilized archival and published sources on the reaction of reservists and their families, Sanborn shows that the military mobilization for war was accompanied by a political mobilization as well. That mobilization was far from unified; Russian citizens went to the streets both to protest the war and to cheer on the troops. But the war did structure political activity and it made nearly every Russian citizen a political actor. This article shows that the political structure during the war was national, focusing on the "people" as the legitimizing political force in the country. It was thus the moment of mobilization that released the potential for a multi-ethnic Russian nation that had been building in the late imperial period.

Zemstvos, Peasants and Citizenship: The Russian Adult Education Movement and the First World War

Scott J. Seregny

Historians have concluded that in the context of post-1905 "zemstvo reaction" and the failure to democratize local government, the zemstvos were largely a spent force. This judgment is problematic on two counts. First, it is not grounded in close examination of the abundant sources for the period 1907-1917. Second, it fails to address a central paradox of this period: that the zemstvos, their "progressive" potential supposedly shattered in the reaction, went on to mount the most ambitious peasant-oriented programs in their fifty year history. Further, they did this in concert with a resuscitated Third Element intelligentsia. This article focuses on the newer field of adult education (libraries, newspaper reading rooms, lectures) and uses the multi-ethnic Ufa Province as a case study. It finds that the war in particular, and peasant demand for information and interpretation of news, opened up a window of opportunity for zemstvos and professionals to enter into an unprecedented dialogue with peasants in which zemstvos attempted to nurture new notions of citizenship. In the process, zemstvos displayed considerable vitality and creativity, provincial educated society showed that it was not nearly as fragmented and paralyzed as many historians assume, and the village was not nearly as closed as some accounts emphasize. The article also attempts to analyze some of the social and cultural dynamics that transformed Russian and non-Russian villages during the First World War, a subject neglected in the scholarly literature.

Citizenship and the Russian Nation during World War I: A Comment

S. A. Smith

This article questions the view that a weakly developed national identity was a major cause of Russia's failure in World War I by comparing Russian developments with those in Germany. It suggests that a "proto-national" identity existed among the peasants for centuries, and that from the late-nineteenth century national identity grew steadily, particularly following the 1905 revolution. The process, however, was impeded by the failure of the autocracy to grant full rights of citizenship. The 1905 revolution also accelerated the formation of imperial, anti-imperial, and class identities, which were potentially in tension with national identity. The outbreak of war strengthened nation, empire, and class as foci of political loyalty, but gradually these loyalties began to pull in different directions. The February revolution eased the tensions, but by the summer of 1917 politics had become polarized between an imperial discourse of nation, an anti-imperial discourse of national self-determination, and a discourse of class. It is suggested that this was a conjunctural phenomenon and should not be seen as the triumph of class identity over national identity.

Marfa Boretskaia, Posadnitsa of Novgorod: A Reconsideration of Her Legend and Her Life

Gail Lenhoff and Janet Martin

According to legend a woman known as Marfa-Posadnitsa led the Novgorodian opposition to Grand Prince Ivan III of Muscovy during the 1470s. Her reputation derives from the "Slovesa izbranna," a unique medieval account of events culminating in the Battle of Shelon' (1471). Its anonymous author vilifies Marfa for conspiring to align Novgorod politically and ecclesiastically with Lithuania and alleges that her treasonous, heretical acts prompted Ivan III's retribution against Novgorod. This article correlates the literary portrait with other documentation, including charters, land cadasters, and chronicles. These sources confirm that Marfa Boretskaia was a wealthy widow, connected through kinship ties to a number of influential Novgorodian families, but not that she organized anti-Muscovite activities. Literary analysis identifies the "Slovesa izbranna" as a work of homiletic rhetoric. By exploiting misogynistic biases to demonize Marfa, the writer hoped to divert the blame for Novgorod's transgressions away from his clients, Archbishop Feofil and the ecclesiastical administration at the Cathedral of St. Sophia, and thus to forestall anticipated reprisals by Moscow against the Novgorodian church.

The Enlightenment of Anna Labzina: Faith and Public Life in Catherinian and Alexandrian Russia

Gary Marker

One of a handful of female memoirists and diarists of late eighteenth-century Russia, Anna Evdokimovna Labzina narrated a life of trial, particularly with her first husband, Aleksandr Matveevich Karamyshev. Subjected to his unending infidelities she turns to faith as a path to solace and understanding. In the process she interwove the creed of Christian suffering with strains of the Russian Enlightenment, including civility, sociability, and individualism. While rejecting the Enlightened world of her husband as mere hedonism and depravity, she nevertheless embraced individual reason and even moral defiance, basing it upon a personalized blending of faith, honor to God the father, and regard for her mother's spiritual legacy. The end product is a highly original matrilineal construction of faith in which femininity stands on equal footing with social patriarchy. Labzina's writing, thus, challenges many of the enduring binarisms of the Russian Enlightenment, and especially the notion of its abidingly unitary and secular nature. Her work complicates the Habermasian debate over public spaces and the participation of women and the feminine in Enlightenment projects.

Invented Traditions: Primitivist Narrative and Design in the Polish Fin-de-Siècle

Edward Manouelian

This article examines the appropriation of regional culture in the search for national identity that underlay the wave of interest, around 1900, in the applied arts and design of the Tatra highlands (Podhale). The article examines the short fiction of Kazimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, an important figure of the Young Poland group as well as a native of the region, in light of the arts and crafts movement that centered around the town of Zakopane. Of particular interest here is the Polish reception of the work of British theoretician Edward Tylor, whose notion of the primitive as a kind of archaic cultural survival made the then still-emerging discipline of anthropology a rich source of materials from which a past (national as well as regional) could be constructed.

To Market! To Market! The Polish Peasantry in the Era of the Stolypin Reforms

Robert E. Blobaum

The Stolypin agrarian reforms of 1906-1914, which aimed at the development of peasant agriculture for the market, have been analyzed primarily in terms of their impact on the Russian peasantry. In Polish history, Petr Stolypin is known more for his postrevolutionary repressive measure and "anti-Polish" nationality policies than for his reforms. This article examines the Stolypin reforms in their Polish context, where they proved much more effective in eliciting the desired peasant response than in Russia itself. In the process it also explores the reasons behind the Polish peasantry's favorable reception of the reforms, especially the ingredients which came together at the turn of the century to form an emerging market "mentality" in the Polish countryside. The article concludes with a discussion of the political implications of the interplay between the Russian state, market forces, and the Polish peasantry on the eve of the Great War.