The uncompleted railway across Northern Siberia was one of the most shameful projects of the post-war era, involving many deaths and huge discomforts. Hailed by Stalin himself as a major part of his 'Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature', the scheme was dropped at his death in 1953. By that time, less than 600 kilometres were in working operation, even though up to 300,000 persons had been involved and about a third of them had perished, while more than 40 billion rubles of capital investment had been wasted. Ghostly labour camps, rusting rolling stock and rails, hundreds of bridges remain in what has been called 'an open air museum of human technology', preserved by nature's refrigerator - the tundra. The article describes the reasons for the railway project and the 'Great Plan', the organization involved, and the conditions in which the enslaved workforce struggled for survival and died.
'The Dead Road' (1947-1953)
Victor L. Mote
Relations and Reactions to the Repressions in the USSR
Elena Gnatovskaya and Alexander Kim
This article evaluates the relationship among the railroad staff of the Far East during the most dramatic events in the political life of the country at that time—repressions. As a rule, Russian academic literature indicates that few workers perceived the Soviet state’s mechanisms of pressure negatively. This article demonstrates that the railroad staff’s position was far more diverse than traditionally argued, which is a result of the broad variety of social groups working for the railroad in the Far East. The article demonstrates this diversity of opinions by focusing on those events that affected a significant number of railroad workers.
Ethnicity, political economy, and violence in Xinjiang, 1759–2009
The extraordinary growth rates of China’s “reform socialist” economy have helped to finance not only the United States’ debt but also large-scale transfers to the country’s underdeveloped regions. Yet violence in Tibet in 2008 was followed in July 2009 by major rioting in Xinjiang. This article approaches the latter events through the analysis of contemporary labor markets, socialist policies toward ethnic minorities, and the history of Xinjiang’s incorporation into the Manchu empire. Theoretical inspiration for this longue durée analysis is drawn from Adam Smith, via Giovanni Arrighi’s recent reassessment of the Smithian market model; anthropological work points to flaws in this vision.
In the rethinking of cosmopolitanism that has been under way in anthropology the emphasis in the European tradition of thought, pertaining to humanity in general and universal values, has been replaced by focus on specific and new cosmopolitan peoples and sites. Cosmopolitanism ceases to be only a political idea, or an ideal, and is conceptualized also in terms of practice or process. A vocabulary of 'rooted cosmopolitanism', 'vernacular cosmopolitanism' and 'actually existing cosmopolitanisms' has emerged from the characteristically anthropological acknowledgment of diversity and inevitable attachments to place. This article accepts such an approach, but argues that it has neglected the presence and intense salience of the ideas of cosmopolitanism held by nation states. Such ideologies, especially those promulgated by authoritarian states, penetrate deep into the lives and thoughts of citizens. The article draws attention to the binary and contradictory character of nation state discourse on cosmopolitanism, and to the way this creates structures of affect and desire. The Soviet concept of kosmopolitizm is analyzed. It is contextualized historically in relation to the state discourse on mobility and the practice of socialist internationalism. The article argues that although the Stalinist version of kosmopolitizm became a poisonous and anti-Semitic accusation, indeed an instrument of repression, it could not control the desire created by its own negativity. Indeed, it played a creative and integral part in the emergence of a distinctive everyday cosmopolitanism among Soviet people.
The Theatre of Memory in Post-Soviet Russia, Estonia and Georgia
increased public knowledge about the Soviet era in general and the Stalinist period in particular’ ( de Waal et al. 2013 ). Furthermore, Saakashvili’s orders to remove the Stalin monument from the centre of Gori, destroy a Second World War monument in
Helen Hundley, Peter Jordon, Alexander D. King, Victor L. Mote, and Kathryn Pinnick
David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Toward the Rising Sun. Russian Ideologies of Empire and the Path to War with Japan (Dekalb, Ill.: Northern University Press, 2001) 329pp. £31.95 (hb); $42.00 (hb) ISBN 0-87580-276-1 (hb)
Anna Reid, The Shaman’s Coat: A Native History of Siberia (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2002) 226pp. £20.00 (hb). ISBN 0-2976-4377-0 (hb)
Kira Van Deusen, Raven and the Rock: Storytelling in Chukotka (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999) 216pp. £20? (hb) ISBN 0-295-97841-4 (hb) Matthew J. Payne, Stalin’s Railroad: Turksib and the Building of Socialism Victor L. Mote
Matthew J. Payne, Stalin’s Railroad: Turksib and the Building of Socialism (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001) 384pp. £23.00, ISBN 0-8229-4166-X
Jennifer Considine and William Kerr, The Russian Oil Economy (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Press, 2002) 360pp. £69.95 (hb), ISBN 1-84064-758-2 (hb)
Property rights, crime, and the rules of law
This essay in comparative history considers how governing elites and rural publics have interpreted rules of law and criminal behavior in times of radical tenure transformation. During the twentieth century, Russians experienced three state-sponsored attempts at property rights revolution: firstly, the pre-1917 Stolypin Reforms to privatize the ubiquitous peasant communes, secondly, Stalin’s 1930s campaign to forcibly collectivized peasant communes, and thirdly, the 1990s ‘shock therapy’ reforms to replace Soviet collectivism with wholesale privatization. In each case, adherents of the pre-existing property systems were excluded from the decision-making process that established the new one. Russia’s historical experience is viewed in light of the contested emergence of private property regimes during England’s enclosure movement, and during the nineteenth-century Euro- pean settler appropriation of American Indian land as private property—with African-born plantation workers also later claimed as private property. In some cases, resistance was viewed as criminal; in others, it was punishable as treason.
Ryan T. Jones, Anna Bara, Galina V Grosheva, Ekaterina Gruzdeva, Peter Schweitzer, Kathryn Demps, and Roza Laptander
A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule Jonathan Schlesinger (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017), 288 pp. ISBN: 9780804799966
Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Stalin’s Soviet Union: New Dimensions of Research Andrej Kotljarchuk and Olle Sundström, eds. (Stockholm: Elanders, 2017), 283 pp., paperback $27.00. ISBN: 978-91-7601-777-7.
Kosmologiia i praktika sibirskogo shamanizma Elena V. Nam (Tomsk: Tomskii gosudarstvennyi universitet, 2017), 296 pp. ISBN: 978-5-7511-2521-9.
Kul’tura i resursy. Opyt etnologicheskogo obsledovaniia sovremennogo polozheniia narodov Severnogo Sakhalina Dmitrii Funk, ed. (Moscow: “Demos,” 2015), 272 pp. ISBN 978-5-9904710-6-1.
Maritime Hunting Culture of Chukotka: Traditions and Modern Practices Igor Krupnik and Rachel Mason, eds. (Anchorage, AK: National Park Service, Shared Beringian Heritage Program, 2016), 343 pp. ISBN: 9780990725251. Litsom k moriu: Pamiati Liudmily Bogoslovskoi Igor Krupnik, ed. (Moscow: Moskva, 2016), 647 pp. ISBN 9785600013650.
T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East Sharon Hudgins (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2018), 448 pp. ISBN: 9781574417142.
Bij de Joekagieren. Het oudste toendravolk van Noord-Oost Siberië / Life with the Yukaghir: Northeast Siberia’s Oldest Tundra People Cecilia Odé (Lias, Uitgeverij: Verschijningsjass, 2018), 240 pp., €29.95 (paperback). ISBN: 978-90-8803-099-4.
Brian Donahoe, Helen S. Hundley, Peter Jordan, David N. Collins, Aimar Ventsel, Sharyl Corrado, John Sallnow, and Kristina Kuentzel-Witt
Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov, The Social Life of the State in Subarctic Siberia (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003) 280pp. illustrations, £36.50. ISBN 0-80473- 462-3
Martin J. Bollinger, Stalin’s Slave Ships. Kolyma, the Gulag Fleet, and the Role of the West (Westport, Conn.: Praeger Press, 2003) 217pp. maps, photographs, tables. £28.99; US $49.95. ISBN 0-275-98100-2 (hb)
Hiroki Takakura, ed. Indigenous Ecological Practices and Cultural Traditions in Yakutia: history, ethnography, politics (Northeast Asian Study Series 6. Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University, 2003) 150pp. maps, tables, illustrations. ISBN 4-901449-12-5 (pb).
Josh Newell, The Russian Far East. A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development (McKinleyville, CA: Daniel and Daniel Publishers, 2004) xx, 466pp. illustrations (some colour), maps, chart, tables index. $99.95. ISBN 1-880284- 76-6 (hb); $59.95. ISBN 1-880284-75-8 (pb)
Alexia Bloch, Red Ties and Residential Schools. Indigenous Siberians in a Post- Soviet State (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003) 264pp. illustrations. £28.00/$39.95 (hb) ISBN 0-8122-3759-5
A. I. Kostanov, ed. Gubernatory Sakhalina (Iuzhno-Sakhalinsk: Arkhivnyi otdel administratsii Sakhalinskoi oblasti, Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Sakhalinskoi oblasti, 2000). 391pp.
Sue Davis, The Russian Far East: the last frontier? (London: Routledge, 2002) 155pp. £60 (hb) ISBN 0-415-27425-7
Judith Thornton and Charles E. Ziegler, eds, Russia’s Far East: A Region at Risk (Seattle, USA: The National Bureau of Asian Research in association with the University of Washington Press, 2002) 498pp. £25.95 (pb) ISBN 0-295-98235-7
Vadim Petrovich Shakherov, Goroda Vostochnoi Sibiri v XVIII – pervoi polovine XIX vv. Ocherki sotsial ‘no-ekonomicheskoi i kul’turnoi zhizni. (Irkutsk, 2001) 264pp. ISBN 5-93219-034-5
Elena Shulman, Stalinism on the Frontier of Empire: Women and State Formation in the Soviet Far East Andrew A. Gentes
Michael Melancon, The Lena Goldfields Massacre and the Crisis of the Late Tsarist State David G. Anderson
Chris Hann, “Not the Horse We Wanted!” Postsocialism, Neoliberalism and Eurasia Katy Fox
Deborah Manley, ed., The Trans-Siberian Railway: A Traveller’s Anthology Steven G. Marks
Sylvie Beyries and Virginie Vaté, Les civilisations du renne d’hier et d’aujourd’hui: approaches ethnohistoriques, archéologiques et anthropologiques Betsy Venard
Centre d’Etudes Mongoles et Sibériennes de l’Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes. 2005-2006, Etudes mongoles et sibériennes, centrasiatiques et tibétaines David G. Anderson
K. David Harrison, When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World’s Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge Myrdene Anderson
Ivan Valentinovich Rassadin, Khoziaistvo, byt i kul’tura tofalarov [The Economy, Way of Life, and Culture of the Tofalar] Robert W. Montgomery
Lyudmila I. Missonova, Uilta Sakhalina: Bol’shie problem malochislennogo naroda [Uilta of the Sakhalin Island: Large Issues of an Indigenous Community] Alexander B. Dolitsky
Books Received for Review