Volume 60 Number 1 Abstracts

Garden of the Empire: Catherine's Appropriation of the Crimea

Andreas Schönle

This paper investigates the ramifications of the garden trope, as Catherine the Great and Grigorii Potemkin applied it to the Crimea after Russia's annexation in 1783. Schönle argues that Catherine conceived of the province as a kind of garden and that she did so in order to bolster the identification of the Crimea with the garden of Eden and thus appeal to the paradise myth that became an intrinsic part of Russia's ideology of imperial power. The Crimean garden was meant to exemplify the benefits of her loving and protective rule, one that enables multicultural coexistence, eschews the risks of assimilationist imperial policies, and yet brings about a moral transformation of the subjugated population. In both its physical and ethnic geography, the Crimean garden claims universality in that it foregrounds an eclectic diversity of species and peoples. Catherine ascribed religious overtones to the garden trope, and she did so in opposition to a western Enlightenment definition of empire and civility.

Occupation and Ethnicity: Constructing Identity among Professional Romani (Gypsy) Musicians in Romania

Margaret H. Beissinger

Based on fieldwork (primarily in southern Romania), this article treats identity-construction among professional male Romani musicians, investigating in particular the discourse that they generate as they maintain their exclusive vocational niche on the boundaries of intersecting ethnic communities. Seeking to establish the influence of Romani musicians as agents in the construction of their own identity, Beissinger discusses notions that Romani musicians provide of non-Roms and other Roms (including other musicians), as well as how they portray surrounding cultural and political phenomena as expressions of their syncretic occupational and ethnic sense of self. Beissinger argues that Romani musicians are unquestionably enclosed by socially inflicted boundaries but are themselves also agents of boundary-making as they articulate connections with and distinctions from the world around them. Throughout, she draws pertinent comparisons with Romani musicians in other east European countries.

Rites of Protest: Populist Funerals in Imperial St. Petersburg, 1876-1878

Tom Trice

Focusing on the funerals of two populist political prisoners, this article examines how Petersburg's radical youth expropriated an allegedly unchanging, sacred ritual to extend the parameters of public discussion and social critique in late imperial Russia. Drawing on their experiences of Russia's religious and revolutionary past, the youth who accompanied their peers to the grave used the special, "sacred" time and space effected by the performance of customary burial rituals to offer their fellow citizens revolutionary alternatives to the existing regime.

A Mass for a Heretic? The Controversy over Lev Tolstoi's Burial

Pål Kolstø

When Lev Tolstoi emerged as a religious teacher in the 1880s, taking a sharply polemical stance against the Orthodox faith, the leadership of the Russian church groped for ways and means to stem the spread of the pernicious new heresy among the Russian public. The most ambitious but also the most disastrous attempt was made in 1901 when the synod promulgated a official pronouncement (poslanie) against him. This document, which created a worldwide scandal, was undertaken by the church itself and not, as has been widely assumed, at the instigation of the state authorities. In its poslanie the synod declared that Tolstoi could not receive an Orthodox burial unless he repented. This strategy badly backfired, since Tolstoi under no circumstances wanted such a burial and therefore made no move toward repentance. At the same time many Russians, including fervent believers, felt that the church itself with its requiem ban had sinned against the Christian injunction of all-embracing love. When Tolstoi died in 1910 and the burial issue became acute, the synod strenuously, but unsuccessfully, searched for a way out of its predicament.

Russification and the Lithuanians, 1863-1905

Theodore R. Weeks

In the half-century after the Polish Insurrection of 1863, the Russian government applied many restrictive measures to Lithuanian culture, including the prohibition of printing Lithuanian except in Cyrillic letters. Some have argued that St. Petersburg aimed to wipe out the culture and language of Lithuanians in this period. A close look at the archival sources shows, however, that the Russian authorities were very little concerned with the Lithuanians per se and far more worried about Polish influences in the region. In the end, the Russian government saw Lithuanians only as a pawn in the "age-old struggle" between Poles and Russians. The failure of official Russians to take Lithuanian nationalism seriously meant that the Russian empire was quite unprepared to deal with this popular movement in the early twentieth century.

Subaltern Dialogues: Subversion and Resistance in Soviet Uzbek Family Law

Douglas Northrop

This article uses the rubric of colonialism and the approach of subaltern studies to understand Soviet efforts to create and enforce a category of "byt crimes" (crimes of daily life) in Uzbekistan during the 1920s and 1930s. As part of an "assault" (hujum) against patriarchy and female subordination, Soviet legislators outlawed a range of practices--including brideprice, polygyny, and marriage of young girls--that they deemed oppressive to women. As the article shows, however, this campaign to liberate Muslim women was neither simple nor straightforward. Party leaders and women's activists wished to "emancipate" Uzbek women through legal, judicial, and police action but found it difficult to devise effective ways to do so. Uzbek men and women reacted to, in many ways subverted, and ultimately reshaped party efforts. The encounter between Soviet power and Uzbek society resulted in complex processes of interplay and negotiation between the two, not simple dictation by one to the other.

The Road from Il'ich to Il'ich

Michael Ellman

An overview of the life and work of the Soviet politician Anastas Mikoian (1895-1978) based on his recently published memoirs, this essay draws attention to the additional knowledge about Soviet politics that can be found in these memoirs. This includes the name of Vladimir Lenin's candidate to succeed Iosif Stalin as general secretary (Ian Rudzutak), the working of the Politburo from 1937 to 1953, and details concerning the evacuation of Moscow in October 1941. In addition, there is information about the circumstances surrounding the creation of the Pospelov committee in 1955, the failure of the CPSU in 1956 to rehabilitate the victims of the open trials of Old Bolsheviks in 1936-1938, and the attempt by Aleksandr Shelepin to replace Leonid Brezhnev in 1967. Memoirs are an imperfect source, and their assertions must be checked against other sources. Overall, though, Ellman concludes that the verdict on Mikoian's life "can only be a shade of grey."