Volume 66 Number 3 Abstracts

“The Art of the Bribe”: Corruption and Everyday Practice in the Late Stalinist USSR

James Heinzen

By drawing on materials in Soviet legal and party archives, James Heinzen explores the phenomenon of bribery in the decade between 1943 and 1953. Bribery, the prototypical type of corruption, enveloped people from all walks of Soviet life. Heinzen examines bribery as a mode of negotiation between common people and officials in the political and social context of late Stalinism, in a time of scarcity, reconstruction, and mass arrests. Discussing the diverse varieties of bribery, Heinzen illustrates how law, Stalinist ideology, popular attitudes, and everyday practices often stood in conflict. Graft had its own subculture with shared attitudes, rituals, and venues. Attitudes differentiating between accepting and offering bribes are explored, as is the existence of a veritable “market” for bribery, in which intermediaries played an important role.

The Nation as Object: Race, Blood, and Biopolitics in Interwar Romania

Marius Turda

In this article, Marius Turda discusses Romanian anthropological and serological research during the interwar period. At the time, the physical contours of the nation captured the attention of specialists and lay commentators alike, from skeptical believers in the historical destiny of the nation to those obsessed with national essence. In this context, anthropology and serology provided scientific legitimacy to the assumption that there was a racial nucleus within the Romanian nation that the natural and social environment could not obliterate; it was this racial nucleus that anthropology and serology identified as “Romanian.” This biologization of national belonging indicates that the origins of eugenic programs of biopolitical rejuvenation are to be sought in the attempt to achieve a new national body amid alleged domestic spiritual decline and unfavorable international conditions. Ultimately, the need for the rejuvenation of the ethnic community was based on the “palingenetic myth” of national renewal, comprising both the idea of spiritual metamorphosis and its fulfillment in a new ethnic ontology.

Looking for Solidarno¶ć in Central Asia: The Role of Human Rights Organizations in Political Change

Brian Grodsky

According to scholars of resource dependency, foreign funding can weaken rather than strengthen civil society abroad, ultimately impeding its effectiveness. Yet the spate of recent “democratic revolutions” in semiauthoritarian, postcommunist states suggests that pumping foreign money into the nongovernmental sphere can be an effective strategy. In this paper Brian Grodsky argues that a critical factor in assessing the likelihood that a given organizational movement will succumb to the ills of resource dependency is the type of politicization within that movement. Those organizations composed of members primarily motivated by ideology are logically less likely to succumb to resource dependency than those organizations dominated by political aspirants intent on converting democratization into their own political power. Two case studies, communist-era Poland and contemporary Uzbekistan, provide support for this theory.

The Impossibility of Shrugging One’s Shoulders: O’Harists, O’Hara and Post-1989 Polish Poetry

Joanna Niżyńska

In this article, Joanna Niżyńska explores the modes used by poets of the bruLion generation (whose debuts coincided with the end of communism) to import Frank O’Hara’s poetics into Polish literature and the significance of their doing so. By employing Harold Bloom’s concepts of the “anxiety of influence,” “kenosis,” and “daemonization,” Niżyńska analyzes the intergenerational impulses manifested in O’Harism in relation to the Romantic paradigm in Poland’s poetic tradition. Niżyńska claims that in turning to O’Hara, such poets as Marcin ¦wietlicki, Jacek Podsiadło, and Miłosz Biedrzycki engaged in dialectically related modes of revisionary reading of both domestic and foreign traditions. O’Harism is interpreted as a sign of a multifaceted cultural morphogenesis that was simultaneously an act of compensation for Romantic “Polish complexes,” a self-exploration of a new poetic generation in the face of a new political and cultural reality, and a misreading of a foreign source.

National Heroic Narratives in the Baltics as a Source for Nonviolent Political Action

Guntis ©midchens

The national heroes of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania that emerged in literary culture during the nineteenth century were warrior heroes. In the twentieth century, a series of interpretations and adaptations by leading authors disarmed and desacralized Kalevipoeg, Bearslayer (Lačplesis), and King Mindaugas, tempering or rejecting their violent actions and recasting these central allegories of national myth into a nonviolent mold. These heroes are part of the cultural context in which the nonviolent Baltic “Singing Revolution” emerged; they offer an intriguing example of evolving (or devolving) aggressive drives and the civilizing process in the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian national cultures.