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New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies

Updated 7 days ago

Society & Culture
History
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Interviews with Scholars of Russia and Eurasia about their New Books

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Interviews with Scholars of Russia and Eurasia about their New Books

iTunes Ratings

26 Ratings
Average Ratings
16
6
1
1
2

Great content needs great equipment

By dickmodel69 - Jun 16 2019
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Really interesting and insightful conversations but the quality of people calling in is very poor. It is sometimes very hard to follow along because of that.

The Cold War, a world history

By slimvlady - Oct 15 2018
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Doesn’t anyone listen to this podcast before you post them? The sound quality was horrible. The subject matter was interesting enough to keep me listening until I couldn’t stand to listen any longer. The interviewer sounded like he was in an echo chamber and the interviewee sounded like he was on a cell phone that kept going in and out of range. It sounds so amateur it’s hard to take you guys seriously. Try having a little pride in the quality of what you do. Perhaps your podcast would be more successful and you would even attract donations

iTunes Ratings

26 Ratings
Average Ratings
16
6
1
1
2

Great content needs great equipment

By dickmodel69 - Jun 16 2019
Read more
Really interesting and insightful conversations but the quality of people calling in is very poor. It is sometimes very hard to follow along because of that.

The Cold War, a world history

By slimvlady - Oct 15 2018
Read more
Doesn’t anyone listen to this podcast before you post them? The sound quality was horrible. The subject matter was interesting enough to keep me listening until I couldn’t stand to listen any longer. The interviewer sounded like he was in an echo chamber and the interviewee sounded like he was on a cell phone that kept going in and out of range. It sounds so amateur it’s hard to take you guys seriously. Try having a little pride in the quality of what you do. Perhaps your podcast would be more successful and you would even attract donations
Cover image of New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies

New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies

Latest release on Oct 20, 2020

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Interviews with Scholars of Russia and Eurasia about their New Books

Rank #1: Adeeb Khalid, “Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR” (Cornell UP, 2015)

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In what promises to become a classic, Adeeb Khalid’s (Professor of History, Carleton College), Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR (Cornell University Press, 2015) examines the interaction of nationalism and religious reform in 20th-century Muslim Central Asia. How does the desire and anticipation of revolution generate...

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Apr 27 2016

55mins

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Rank #2: Steven Barnes, “Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society” (Princeton UP, 2011)

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Most Westerners know about the Gulag (aka “Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies”) thanks to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s eloquent, heart-wrenching Gulag Archipelago. Since the publication of that book in 1973 (and largely thanks to it), the Gulag has come to symbolize the horrors of Stalinism. Made up of a...

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Sep 23 2011

1hr 13mins

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Rank #3: Laura Engelstein, “Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914-1921” (Oxford University Press, 2017)

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Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914-1921 (Oxford University Press, 2017) is a masterful account of the Russian revolutionary era by Laura Engelstein, Professor Emerita at Yale University. Spanning the pre-revolutionary period immediately prior the First World War to the end of the Russian Civil War, Russia in Flames...

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Jan 31 2018

1hr 4mins

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Rank #4: James Heinzen, “The Art of the Bribe: Corruption Under Stalin, 1943-1953” (Yale UP, 2016)

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The Soviet Union under Stalin was very repressive. You could get sent to a GULAG (if not shot) for casually telling an “anti-Soviet” joke or pilfering ubiquitous “state property.” But, as James Heinzen points out in his excellent book The Art of the Bribe: Corruption Under Stalin, 1943-1953 (Yale University...

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May 12 2017

1hr 3mins

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Rank #5: Iva Glisic, "The Futurist Files: Avant-Garde, Politics, and Ideology in Russia, 1905–1930" (NIU Press, 2018)

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Futurism was Russia's first avant-garde movement. Gatecrashing the Russian public sphere in the early twentieth century, the movement called for the destruction of everything old, so that the past could not hinder the creation of a new, modern society. Over the next two decades, the protagonists of Russian Futurism pursued their goal of modernizing human experience through radical art. The success of this mission has long been the subject of scholarly debate. Critics have often characterized Russian Futurism as an expression of utopian daydreaming by young artists who were unrealistic in their visions of Soviet society and naïve in their comprehension of the Bolshevik political agenda.

In The Futurist Files: Avant-Garde, Politics, and Ideology in Russia, 1905–1930 (Northern Illinois University Press, 2018), Iva Glisic challenges this view, demonstrating that Futurism took a calculated and systematic approach to its contemporary socio-political reality. This approach ultimately allowed Russia's Futurists to devise a unique artistic practice that would later become an integral element of the distinctly Soviet cultural paradigm. Drawing upon a unique combination of archival materials and employing a theoretical framework inspired by the works of philosophers such as Lewis Mumford, Karl Mannheim, Ernst Bloch, Fred Polak, and Slavoj Žižek, The Futurist Files presents Futurists not as blinded idealists, but rather as active and judicious participants in the larger project of building a modern Soviet consciousness. This fascinating study ultimately stands as a reminder that while radical ideas are often dismissed as utopian, and impossible, they did―and can―have a critical role in driving social change. It will be of interest to art historians, cultural historians, and scholars and students of Russian history.

Aaron Weinacht is Professor of History at the University of Montana Western, in Dillon, MT. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet History, World History, and Philosophy of History. His research interests include the sociological theorist Philip Rieff and the influence of Russian nihilism on American libertarianism.

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May 21 2020

1hr 2mins

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Rank #6: Coryne Hall, "Queen Victoria and the Romanovs: 60 Years of Mutual Distrust" (Amberley, 2020)

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The balance of power in nineteenth-century Europe was anchored on one end by the redoubtable Queen Victoria (1819 -1901), the doyenne of sovereigns, and at the opposite end by the autocratic Romanov dynasty — four successive emperors who ruled Russia during Victoria's own 63-year reign. Between these great powers lay the rising military power of Prussia, which concerned both Britain and Russia, and a decaying Ottoman Empire from which both hoped to benefit, as well as shipping routes vital to both countries' commercial and military interests. These and numerous other concerns made the relationship tense at the best of times. But Victoria's large family was also entangled with the Romanovs through the complicated web of royal and dynastic marriages that linked the ruling houses of Europe.

These political and personal ties are the subject of royal biographer, Coryne Hall's new book, Queen Victoria and the Romanovs: 60 Years of Mutual Distrust (Amberley, 2020). Ms. Hall is a seasoned royal biographer and chronicler, who has delighted royal buffs with her authoritative biographies of Empress Maria Fyodorovna, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, and her exploration of royal Princesses who served as wartime nurses as well as the Imperial estates in the Crimea. In "Queen Victoria and the Romanovs," Ms. Hall delves into the extensive trove of Queen Victoria's diaries and personal correspondence to construct an ambitious and highly informative portrait of her six-decade relationship with the Romanovs, which is at times cordial and diplomatic and at other times overtly hostile.

The first encounter takes place "off stage" as far as Victoria is concerned, but very much sets the stage for the tension to come. Victoria's aunt, Juliane of Saxe-Coburg Saalfeld's miserable marriage to Russia's Grand Duke Constantine ended — most extraordinarily for the time — in divorce. The Coburg family felt that Juliane had been very badly treated by the Romanovs, a sentiment that was inherited by the next generation of Coburgs, which included Victoria and her cousin and future husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg.

Before Albert linked his name in perpetuity with that of Victoria, however, the 20-year-old Queen was swept off her feet — quite literally— by the dashing Grand Duke Alexander, son and heir of Tsar Nicholas I. On a visit to London in 1839, the Grand Duke made quite an impression on the young Queen; all thoughts of poor Aunt Julie and the prudent warnings of Lord Melbourne and Victoria's Coburg Uncle Leopold, King of the Belgians, were forgotten as Victoria indulged in champagne and her first "crush" on the future Tsar Alexander II.

The heady attraction did not last. Though Nicholas I and Victoria exchanged courteous, diplomatic correspondence, they were destined to clash in one of the nineteenth century's most brutal conflicts: the Crimean War, in which the British prevailed and Nicholas was driven to an early grave.

Coryne Hall is the author of 12 books, including A Biography of the Empress Marie Feodorovna 1847-1928Imperial Dancer. Mathilde Kschessinska and the Romanovs, and Imperial Crimea: Estates, Enchantment & the Last of the Romanovs. Follow Coryne Hall on Twitter.

Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who writes about travel, culture, cuisine and culinary history, Russian history, and Royal History, with bylines in Reuters, Fodor's, USTOA, LitHub, The Moscow Times, and Russian Life. She is the award-winning author of Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow and Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia: A Pocket Guide to Russian History.

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May 27 2020

41mins

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Rank #7: Mark Galeotti, “The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia” (Yale UP, 2018)

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The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia (Yale University Press, 2018) by Mark Galeotti is an engrossing read about a topic mainstream scholarship has largely ignored: Russia’s criminal underworld. With Galeotti as our guide, we delve into the colorful world of the vory v zakone or “thieves of the code,” with their flamboyant nicknames, esoteric rituals, and vibrant body tattoos, which Galeotti explains are very much a gangster’s CV.

The Vory traces the development of the Russian underworld  from the horse bandits and bank robbers of the nineteenth century, through the chaos of the Revolution and the Civil, when, as Galeotti says, “… the Bolsheviks won the war but lost their souls.”  Galeotti’s scholarship shines through the section on the vast sea change that takes place when during The Terror as the gangsters are co-opted by the State to help regulate the Gulag system.  The resulting “turf war” creates a new post-war type of gangster, the “avtorityet,” who adapt to service the needs of a society in chaotic transition.

The Vory also looks at the ways the Putin administration has tamed the underworld, but also the ways in which the State and the underworld are now intrinsically linked; the government even outsources unseemly tasks to the underworld, as is clear in both the 2014 Annexation of Crimea and the ongoing frozen conflict in Donbas.

Galeotti first became interested in Russian organized crime while interviewing veterans of Russia’s war with Afghanistan for his doctorate research.  He noted that many of the Afgantsy were drifting into ranks of the vorovsky mir or “thieves world.”  Since that time, he has delved into the topic with a unique methodology that fuses scholarship with personal encounter.  It takes a special researcher to ride around Moscow’s dodgy neighborhoods in a rickety squad car wearing a well-used bullet-proof vest, but Galeotti’s time has certainly not been wasted.  “The Vory” is a thrilling and gripping read filled with larger-than-life, compelling characters and spot-on historical analysis.  It is marvelous window into a secret world that is constantly evolving.

Jennifer Eremeeva is an American expatriate writer who divides her time between Riga, Latvia, and New England.  Jennifer writes about travel, food, lifestyle, and Russian history and culture with bylines in Reuters, Fodor’s, The Moscow Times, and Russian Life.  She is the in-house travel blogger for Alexander & Roberts, and the award-winning author of  Lenin Lives Next Door:  Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook or visit jennifereremeeva.com for more.   

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Jun 10 2019

1hr 13mins

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Rank #8: Daniel Treisman, “The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev” (Free Press, 2011)

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Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, journalists, academics, and policymakers have sought to make sense of post-Soviet Russia. Is Russia an emerging or retrograde democracy? A free-market or crony capitalism? Adopting Western values or forever steeped in Asiatic mores? Is Russia in transition, and if so, transition to what?...

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Jul 05 2011

1hr 8mins

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Rank #9: Kenneth Moss, “Jewish Renaissance in the Russian Revolution” (Harvard UP, 2010)

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For us, every “nation” has and has always had a “culture,” meaning a defining set of folkways, customs, and styles that is different from every other. But like the modern understanding of the word “nation,” this idea of “culture” or “a culture” is not very old. According to the OED,...

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Mar 10 2011

1hr 16mins

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Rank #10: Artemy Kalinovsky, “A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan” (Harvard UP, 2011)

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It’s been twenty years since the Soviet Union collapsed, and scholars still joust over its long- and short-term causes. Amid the myriad factors–stagnating economy, reform spun out of control, globalization, nationalism–the Soviet war in Afghanistan figures in many narratives. Indeed, the ten-year intervention was the one of hottest and bloodiest...

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Jan 16 2012

1hr 5mins

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Rank #11: Svetlana Stephenson, “Gangs of Russia: From the Streets to the Corridors of Power” (Cornell University Press, 2015)

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The title of Svetlana Stephenson’s book Gangs of Russia: From the Streets to the Corridors of Power (Cornell UP, 2015) invites a number of questions: How do criminal and legal spheres conflate? Is the cooperation of criminal organizations and legal institutions inherent to a society structure? In what way do...

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Sep 26 2018

36mins

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Rank #12: Yuri Slezkine, “The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution” (Princeton UP, 2017)

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Before the revolution that—very unexpectedly—brought them to power, the Bolsheviks lived nomadic lives. They were always on the run from the authorities. That the authorities were always after them is not really a mystery, for all the Bolsheviks really wanted to do was take their authority away. What they would...

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Dec 04 2017

46mins

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Rank #13: Per Anders Rudling, “The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931” (U of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)

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I don’t often have a chance to read books that focus solely on Belarus, which is exactly why I was intrigued by The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). Per Anders Rudling‘s study seeks to answer a basic question Why is there today an...

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May 23 2016

1hr 10mins

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Rank #14: Cynthia A. Ruder, “Building Stalinism: The Moscow Canal and the Creation of Soviet Space” (I. B. Tauris, 2018)

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In Building Stalinism: The Moscow Canal and the Creation of Soviet Space (I. B. Tauris, 2018), Cynthia Ruder explores how the building of the Moscow canal reflected the values of Stalinism and how it was used to create distinctly Soviet space, both real and imagined.  She discusses the canal as a physical...

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Jul 05 2018

59mins

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Rank #15: Jonathan Daly, “Crime and Punishment in Russia: A Comparative History from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin” (Bloomsbury, 2018)

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Jonathan Daly is a professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His newest book Crime and Punishment in Russia: A Comparative History from Peter the Great to Vladimir Putin (Bloomsbury, 2018), provides a comprehensive overview of the development of the criminal justice system in Russia from the...

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Apr 10 2018

1hr 14mins

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Rank #16: Lynne Viola, “Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine” (Oxford UP, 2017)

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What happened inside NKVD interrogation rooms during the Great Terror? How did the perpetrators feel when the Soviet state turned on them in 1938 during “the purge of the purgers?” In her newest book, Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine (Oxford University Press, 2017),...

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Jul 16 2018

51mins

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Rank #17: Victor Taki, “Tsar and Sultan: Russian Encounters with the Ottoman Empire” (I.B. Taurus, 2016)

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Victor Taki’s Tsar and Sultan: Russian Encounters with the Ottoman Empire (I.B. Taurus, 2016) invites the reader to explore the captivating story of the relationship of the Russian and Ottoman Empires in the 19th century, and highlights the role the Oriental world played in the shaping of Russian national idea...

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Dec 14 2016

1hr 1min

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Rank #18: Roberto Carmack, "Kazakhstan in World War II: Mobilization and Ethnicity in the Soviet Empire" (UP of Kansas, 2019)

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Roberto Carmack’s Kazakhstan in World War II: Mobilization and Ethnicity in the Soviet Empire (University Press of Kansas, 2019) looks at the experience of the Kazakh Republic during the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War. Using a variety of archival materials, newspapers, and individual memoirs, Carmack looks at important topics of the war experience in Kazakhstan, including mobilization, deportations, forced labor, and the role of propaganda. Carmack’s work will help readers understand the Soviet Union’s role as a multi-national empire and how the wartime experience affected the relationship between the multiple ethnicities of the Soviet Union.

Nicholas Seay is a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University.

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Dec 06 2019

57mins

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Rank #19: Anna Fishzon, “Fandom, Authenticity, and Opera: Mad Acts and Letter Scenes in Fin-de-Siecle Russia” (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013)

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Pretty much everyone understands what is called the “Cult of Celebrity,” particularly as it manifests itself in the arts. It’s a mentality that privileges the actor over the act, the singer over the song, the painter over the painting, and so on. The Cult of Celebrity’s essence is a fanatical...

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Apr 17 2014

55mins

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Rank #20: Christopher Ward, “Brezhnev’s Folly: The Building of BAM and Late Soviet Socialism” (Pittsburgh UP, 2009)

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At the Seventeenth Komsomol Congress in 1974, Leonid Brezhnev announced the construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline Railway, or BAM. This “Path to the Future” would prove to be the Soviet Union’s last flirt with socialist gigantism. The cost, poor planning, waste, and environmental damage associated with the construction BAM’s 2,687...

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Apr 08 2011

1hr

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Alexey Golubev, "The Things of Life: Materiality in Late Soviet Russia" (Cornell UP, 2020)

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The Things of Life: Materiality in Late Soviet Russia (Cornell UP, 2020) is a social and cultural history of material objects and spaces during the late socialist era. It traces the biographies of Soviet things, examining how the material world of the late Soviet period influenced Soviet people's gender roles, habitual choices, social trajectories, and imaginary aspirations. Instead of seeing political structures and discursive frameworks as the only mechanisms for shaping Soviet citizens, Alexey Golubev explores how Soviet people used objects and spaces to substantiate their individual and collective selves. In doing so, Golubev rediscovers what helped Soviet citizens make sense of their selves and the world around them, ranging from space rockets and model aircraft to heritage buildings, and from home gyms to the hallways and basements of post-Stalinist housing. Through these various materialist fascinations, The Things of Life considers the ways in which many Soviet people subverted the efforts of the Communist regime to transform them into a rationally organized, disciplined, and easily controllable community.

Golubev argues that late Soviet materiality had an immense impact on the organization of the Soviet historical and spatial imagination. His approach also makes clear the ways in which the Soviet self was an integral part of the global experience of modernity rather than simply an outcome of Communist propaganda. Through its focus on materiality and personhood, The Things of Life expands our understanding of what made Soviet people and society "Soviet."

Alexey Golubev is a scholar of Russian history with a focus on social and cultural history of the twentieth century. He has a Cand.Sc. (kandidatskaya) degree from the Petrozavodsk University (2006) and a Ph.D. degree from the University of British Columbia (2016). Since 2017 he has worked as an Assistant Professor at the Department of History, University of Houston.

Steven Seegel is Professor of History at University of Northern Colorado.

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Oct 20 2020

59mins

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H. Shelest and M. Rabinovych, "Decentralization, Regional Diversity, and Conflict: The Case of Ukraine" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

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The articles presented in Decentralization, Regional Diversity, and Conflict: The Case of Ukraine (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) aim to explore the current political and administrative challenges that Ukraine is facing.

The volume draws particular attention to the issues that have been escalated and intensified since the inception of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. From a diversity of perspectives, the contributors explore the nature of the current challenges, as well as possible ways for dealing with them. One of the central points and issues that the volume highlights is regional diversity. As the editors and contributors make it clear, diversity can be used as an advantage and a disadvantage on both political and legal levels: the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia illustrates a number of ways in which regional diversity can be manipulated and misused. The volume emphasizes that Ukraine is a multiethnic country which has always hosted a diversity of ethnic groups, with a number of linguistic traditions: this factor should be presented as one of the aspects for managing the consequences of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, in which ethnic issues have been extensively manipulated by the Russian authorities. One of the largest contributions of the volume lies in the terminological clarification, with an emphasis on the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, including the Crimea annexation, which produces an effective legal platform for the integration of Ukrainian issues into the European and global contexts.

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Oct 19 2020

57mins

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Jessica Zychowicz, "Superfluous Women: Art, Feminism, and Revolution in Twenty-First Century Ukraine" (U Toronto Press, 2020)

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Superfluous Women: Art, Feminism, and Revolution in Twenty-First Century Ukraine (University of Toronto Press, 2020) tells the unique story of a generation of artists, feminists, and queer activists who emerged in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union. With a focus on new media, Zychowicz demonstrates how contemporary artist collectives in Ukraine have contested Soviet and Western connotations of feminism to draw attention to a range of human rights issues with global impact.

In the book, Zychowicz summarizes and engages with more recent critical scholarship on the role of digital media and virtual environments in concepts of the public sphere. Mapping out several key changes in newly independent Ukraine, she traces the discursive links between distinct eras, marked by mass gatherings on Kyiv's main square, in order to investigate the deeper shifts driving feminist protest and politics today.

Dr. Jessica Zychowicz was recently a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine (2017-18) and is currently based at the University of Alberta. She was also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and been hosted in residencies and invited talks at Uppsala University Institute for Russian and East European Studies in Sweden; the University of St. Andrews in Edinburgh; NYU Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, among others. She earned her doctorate at the University of Michigan and holds a degree from UC Berkeley.

Steven Seegel is Professor of History at University of Northern Colorado.

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Oct 16 2020

57mins

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A. Wylegala and M. Glowacka-Grajper, "The Burden of the Past: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Ukraine" (Indiana UP, 2020)

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In a century marked by totalitarian regimes, genocide, mass migrations, and shifting borders, the concept of memory in Eastern Europe is often synonymous with notions of trauma. In Ukraine, memory mechanisms were disrupted by political systems seeking to repress and control the past in order to form new national identities supportive of their own agendas. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, memory in Ukraine was released, creating alternate visions of the past, new national heroes, and new victims. This release of memories led to new conflicts and "memory wars."

How does the past exist in contemporary Ukraine? The works collected in The Burden of the Past: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Ukraine (Indiana UP, 2020), edited by Anna Wylegała and Małgorzata Głowacka-Grajper, focus on commemorative practices, the politics of history, and the way memory influences Ukrainian politics, identity, and culture. The works explore contemporary memory culture in Ukraine and the ways in which it is being researched and understood. Drawing on work from historians, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and political scientists, the collection represents a truly interdisciplinary approach. Taken together, the groundbreaking scholarship collected in The Burden of the Past provides insight into how memories can be warped and abused, and how this abuse can have lasting effects on a country seeking to create a hopeful future.

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Oct 16 2020

1hr 3mins

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Brandon M. Schechter, "The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects" (Cornell UP, 2019)

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The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects (Cornell University Press) uses everyday objects to tell the story of the Great Patriotic War as never before. Brandon Schechter attends to a diverse array of things―from spoons to tanks―to show how a wide array of citizens became soldiers, and how the provisioning of material goods separated soldiers from civilians.

Through a fascinating examination of leaflets, proclamations, newspapers, manuals, letters to and from the front, diaries, and interviews, The Stuff of Soldiers reveals how the use of everyday items made it possible to wage war. The dazzling range of documents showcases ethnic diversity, women's particular problems at the front, and vivid descriptions of violence and looting.

Each chapter features a series of related objects: weapons, uniforms, rations, and even the knick-knacks in a soldier's rucksack. These objects narrate the experience of people at war, illuminating the changes taking place in Soviet society over the course of the most destructive conflict in recorded history. Schechter argues that spoons, shovels, belts, and watches held as much meaning to the waging of war as guns and tanks. In The Stuff of Soldiers, he describes the transformative potential of material things to create a modern culture, citizen, and soldier during World War II.

Brandon Schechter is currently a faculty fellow at NYU-Shanghai. Before that he served as the Elihu Rose Scholar in Modern Military History at NYU, and a post doctoral fellow at the Davis Center for the Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard.

Steven Seegel is Professor of History, University of Northern Coloradod

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Oct 06 2020

58mins

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Jennifer J. Carroll, "Narkomania: Drugs, HIV, and Citizenship in Ukraine" (Cornell UP, 2019)

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Against the backdrop of a post-Soviet state set aflame by geopolitical conflict and violent revolution, Narkomania: Drugs, HIV, and Citizenship in Ukraine (Cornell UP, 2019) considers whether substance use disorders are everywhere the same and whether our responses to drug use presuppose what kind of people those who use drugs really are. Jennifer J. Carroll's ethnography is a story about public health and international efforts to quell the spread of HIV. Carroll focuses on Ukraine where the prevalence of HIV among people who use drugs is higher than in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and unpacks the arguments and myths surrounding medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in Ukraine. What she presents in Narkomania forces us to question drug policy, its uses, and its effects on "normal" citizens.

Carroll uses her findings to explore what people who use drugs can teach us about the contemporary societies emerging in post-Soviet space. With examples of how MAT has been politicized, how drug use has been tied to ideas of "good" citizenship, and how vigilantism towards people who use drugs has occurred, Narkomania details the cultural and historical backstory of the situation in Ukraine. Carroll reveals how global efforts supporting MAT in Ukraine allow the ideas surrounding MAT, drug use, and HIV to resonate more broadly into international politics and echo into the heart of the Ukrainian public.

Dr. Jennifer J. Carroll is a medical anthropologist, research scientist, and subject matter expert on substance use and public health interventions to prevent overdose. She earned her PhD in cultural anthropology and her MPH in epidemiology at the University of Washington. She currently holds appointments as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Steven Seegel is Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado.

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Oct 06 2020

58mins

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David R. Marples, "Understanding Ukraine and Belarus: A Memoir" (E-International Relations, 2020)

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David R. Marples' new book Understanding Ukraine and Belarus: A Memoir (E-International Relations, 2020) describes the author's academic journey from an undergraduate in London to his current research on Ukraine and Belarus as a History professor in Alberta, Canada. It highlights the dramatic changes of the late Soviet and post-Soviet periods, his travel stories, experiences, and the Stalinist legacy in both countries. It includes extended focus on his visits to Chernobyl and the contaminated zone in the late 1980s and 1990s, as well as a summer working with indigenous groups in eastern Siberia. Visiting Belarus more than 25 times since the 1990s, he was banned for seven years before the visa rules were relaxed in 2017. In the case of Ukraine, it chronicles a transition from a total outsider to one of the best-known scholars in Ukrainian studies, commenting on aspects of the coalescence of scholarship and politics, and the increasing role of social media and the Diaspora in the analysis of crucial events such as the Euromaidan uprising and its aftermath in Kyiv.

David R. Marples is a Distinguished University Professor of Russian and East European History, University of Alberta.

Steven Seegel is Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado.

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Oct 02 2020

58mins

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John Connelly, "From Peoples into Nations: A History of Eastern Europe" (Princeton UP, 2020)

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John Connelly’s new book – From Peoples into Nations: A History of Eastern Europe (Princeton University Press, 2020) – is an encyclopedic but lively narrative that captivates both those familiar with old stories about the region and novices who are seeking introduction to this vast laboratory of European modernity. Passionate, erudite, and insightful, the book pursues answers to the central question of Eastern European history: why does nationalism persist as the organizing principle of political life in a region where it has produced such tragedies?

Connelly traces the rise of nationalism in Polish, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman lands; the creation of new states after the First World War and their later absorption by the Nazi Reich and the Soviet Bloc; the reemergence of democracy and separatist movements after the collapse of communism; and the recent surge of populist politics throughout the region.

John Connelly is a Professor of History at the University of California Berkley who works in the fields of modern Eastern European social and political history, the history of education, nationalism studies, and the history of Catholicism.

Vladislav Lilić is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the place and persistence of quasi-sovereignty in late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Southeastern Europe. Vladislav’s other fields of interest include the socio-legal history of empire, global history of statehood, and the history of international thought. You can reach him at vladislav.lilic@vanderbilt.edu.

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Sep 30 2020

56mins

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Sören Urbansky, "Beyond the Steppe Frontier: A History of the Sino-Russian Border" (Princeton UP, 2020)

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The fact that the vast border between China and Russia is often overlooked goes hand-in-hand with a lack of understanding of the ordinary citizens in these much-discussed places, who often lose out to larger-than-life figures like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. A book that combines a look at the history of the Sino-Russian border with a focus on the experiences of everyday borderlanders is thus very valuable, and this is exactly what is offered by Sören Urbansky’s Beyond the Steppe Frontier: A History of the Sino-Russian Border (Princeton University Press).

Meticulously researched and lucidly written, Urbansky’s book draws most of its insights from a particular region of steppe – the Argun river basin – around the point where today Russia and China also converge with the eastern end of Mongolia. As well as giving a sense of the border’s formation over 300 years, Urbansky’s biperspectival look from both Russian and Chinese sides shows how the inter-state boundary took shape as a result of actions by local people, whose lives have in turn been transformed by existence next to a geopolitical faultline.

Sören Urbansky is a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC.

Ed Pulford is a Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and northeast Asian indigenous groups.

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Sep 08 2020

1hr 15mins

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Joanna Stingray, "Red Wave: An American in the Soviet Music Underground" (Doppelhouse Press, 2020)

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Red Wave: An American in the Soviet Music Underground (Doppelhouse Press, 2020) is Joanna Stingray’s autobiographical account of her time on the underground music scene in the USSR and Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During this time Joanna met and worked with some of the most important names in Russian rock like Boris Grebenshchikov of Aquarium and Victor Tsoi of Kino. She also had encounters with both the KGB and FBI who were incredulous that an American girl would come to the USSR just to listen to rock. Listen in as she describes the creativity, inspiration and events that helped create iconic underground Russian rock.

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Sep 04 2020

1hr

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James C. Pearce, "The Use of History in Putin's Russia" (Vernon Press, 2020)

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History matters in Russia. It really matters, so much so that the state has a "historical policy" to help legitimize itself and support its policy agenda. The Use of History in Putin's Russia (Vernon Press, 2020), James C. Pearce examines how the past is perceived in contemporary Russia and analyses the ways in which the Russian state uses history to create a broad coalition of consensus and forge a new national identity. Central to issues of governance and national identity, the Russian state utilises history for the purpose of state-building and reviving Russia's national consciousness in the twenty-first century.

Assessing how history mediates the complex relationship between state and population, this book analyses the selection process of constructing and recycling a preferred historical narrative to create loyal, patriotic citizens, ultimately aiding its modernisation. Different historical spheres of Russian life are analysed in-depth including areas of culture, politics, education, and anniversaries. The past is not just a state matter, a socio-political issue linked to the modernisation process, containing many paradoxes.

Daniel Peris is Senior Vice President at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh. Trained as a historian of modern Russia, he is the author most recently of Getting Back to Business: Why Modern Portfolio Theory Fails Investors. You can follow him on Twitter @HistoryInvestor or at http://www.strategicdividendinvestor.com

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Sep 03 2020

35mins

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Marco Puleri, "Ukrainian, Russophone, (Other) Russian: Hybrid Identities and Narratives in Post-Soviet Culture and Politics" (Peter Lang, 2020)

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Marco Puleri’s Ukrainian, Russophone, (Other) Russian: Hybrid Identities and Narratives in Post-Soviet Culture and Politics (Peter Lang, 2020) examines a complex process of identity formation in the context of exposure to a diversity of linguistic and cultural influences. Puleri zeroes in on contemporary Ukraine to explore the specificities of cultural overlapping and the power it exercises on the individual’s construction of self. As the title prompts, the emphasis is made on hybrid identities, which Puleri views from the perspective of epistemological multivalences. The discussion of the formation and function of hybrid identities is rooted not only in cultural and linguistic diversities, but also in complex historical and political processes.

In Ukrainian, Russophone, (Other) Russian, Puleri attempts to unravel entangled clusters that signal identity hybridity: the book offers an ample collection of instances that manifest the overlapping and collaboration of multiple narratives that construct various identities. The book discusses in detail the writers who write (or wrote) in Russian, but live in Ukraine. Puleri asks a legitimate question, to which it is hard to find an answer: how does one categorize such literature? Is it Russian? Even though it is not written in Russia and it is not written by writers who consider themselves Russians. Is it Ukrainian? It is not written in Ukrainian, but it is written by writers who identify themselves as Ukrainians. The question itself is further complicated by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which makes the question sensitive and at times uncomfortable. In Ukrainian, Russophone, (Other) Russian, Puleri considers a variety of aspects, attempting to delicately approach the question of hybrid identity, which in the present combination—Ukrainian and Russian components—may evoke further anxieties and complications.

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Sep 02 2020

55mins

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Stephen Riegg, "Russia’s Entangled Embrace: The Tsarist Empire and the Armenians, 1801-1914" (Cornell UP, 2020)

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Russia’s Entangled Embrace: The Tsarist Empire and the Armenians, 1801-1914 (Cornell University Press, 2020) traces the relationship between the Romanov state and the Armenian diaspora that populated Russia's territorial fringes and navigated the tsarist empire's metropolitan centers.

By engaging the ongoing debates about imperial structures that were simultaneously symbiotic and hierarchically ordered, Stephen Badalyan Riegg helps us to understand how, for Armenians and some other subjects, imperial rule represented not hypothetical, clear-cut alternatives but simultaneous, messy realities. He examines why, and how, Russian architects of empire imagined Armenians as being politically desirable. These circumstances included the familiarity of their faith, perceived degree of social, political, or cultural integration, and their actual or potential contributions to the state's varied priorities.

Based on extensive research in the archives of St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Yerevan, Russia's Entangled Embrace reveals that the Russian government relied on Armenians to build its empire in the Caucasus and beyond. Analyzing the complexities of this imperial relationship―beyond the reductive question of whether Russia was a friend or foe to Armenians―allows us to study the methods of tsarist imperialism in the context of diasporic distribution, interimperial conflict and alliance, nationalism, and religious and economic identity.

Stephen Badalyan Riegg is a Texas A&M Arts and Humanities Fellow for 2020-23. He can be reached at sriegg@tamu.edu.

Steven Seegel is Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado.

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Aug 28 2020

57mins

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Adam Teller, "Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the 17th Century" (Princeton UP, 2020)

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A refugee crisis of huge proportions erupted as a result of the mid-seventeenth-century wars in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of Jews fled their homes, or were captured and trafficked across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rescue the Surviving Souls is the first book to examine this horrific moment of displacement and flight, and to assess its social, economic, religious, cultural, and psychological consequences. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in twelve languages, Adam Teller traces the entire course of the crisis, shedding fresh light on the refugee experience and the various relief strategies developed by the major Jewish centers of the day.

Teller pays particular attention to those thousands of Jews sent for sale on the slave markets of Istanbul and the extensive transregional Jewish economic network that coalesced to ransom them. He also explores how Jewish communities rallied to support the refugees in central and western Europe, as well as in Poland-Lithuania, doing everything possible to help them overcome their traumatic experiences and rebuild their lives.

Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the 17th Century (Princeton University Press, 2020) offers an intimate study of an international refugee crisis, from outbreak to resolution, that is profoundly relevant today.

Adam Teller is a Professor of Judaic Studies and History at Princeton University. He is the author of Money, Power, and Influence in Eighteenth-Century Lithuania: The Jews on the Radziwiłł Estates.

Robin Buller is a Doctoral Candidate in History at UNC Chapel Hill and a 2020-2021 dissertation fellow with the Association for Jewish Studies.

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Aug 25 2020

1hr 15mins

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Matthew Romaniello, "Enterprising Empires: Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

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In his new book Enterprising Empires: Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia (Cambridge University Press), Matthew Romaniello examines the workings of the British Russia Company and the commercial entanglements of the British and Russian empires in the long eighteenth century.

This innovative and highly readable monograph challenges the long-held views of Russian economic backwardness in the early modern period and stresses the importance of personal histories and individual agency in global economic dynamics. By focusing on diplomatic and commercial careers of a fascinating set of characters, Romaniello charts vibrant knowledge and information-sharing networks that were essential for the success of both empires in the Eurasian economic and geopolitical arenas.

A non-conventional economic history, Enterprising Empires traverses the micro-historical and the macro-economic to reevaluate Russian commercial prowess before 1800 and illuminate an overlooked area of Anglo-Russian cooperation and rivalry.

Matthew Romaniello is an Associate Professor of History at Weber State University and a historian of the Russian empire, commodities, and medicine. He is currently the editor of The Journal of World History and the former editor of Sibirica: Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies.

Vladislav Lilić is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the place and persistence of quasi-sovereignty in late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Southeastern Europe. Vladislav’s other fields of interest include the socio-legal history of empire, global history of statehood, and the history of international thought. You can reach him at vladislav.lilic@vanderbilt.edu.

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Aug 24 2020

59mins

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David Moon, "The American Steppes: The Unexpected Russian Roots of Great Plains Agriculture, 1870s-1930s" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

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Beginning in the 1870s, migrant groups from Russia's steppes settled in the similar environment of the Great Plains. Many were Mennonites. They brought plants, in particular grain and fodder crops, trees and shrubs, as well as weeds. Following their example, and drawing on the expertise of émigré Russian-Jewish scientists, the US Department of Agriculture introduced more plants, agricultural sciences, especially soil science; and methods of planting trees to shelter the land from the wind. By the 1930s, many of the grain varieties in the Great Plains had been imported from the steppes. The fertile soil was classified using the Russian term 'chernozem'. The US Forest Service was planting shelterbelts using techniques pioneered in the steppes. And, tumbling across the plains was an invasive weed from the steppes: tumbleweed. Based on archival research in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, this book explores the unexpected Russian roots of Great Plains agriculture.

David Moon is a history professor at the University of York in the UK and holds an honorary professorship at University College London. He is a specialist on Russian, Eurasian, and transnational environmental history. He began his career as a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin, at the southern end of the Great Plains, and completed his new book as a visiting professor at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, in the heart of the Eurasian steppes.The American Steppes: The Unexpected Russian Roots of Great Plains Agriculture, 1870s-1930s (Cambridge University Press, 2020), which explores connections between these two regions, is his fifth book. He would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust for supporting his work.

Steven Seegel is Professor of History at University of Northern Colorado.

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Aug 21 2020

57mins

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Natan M. Meir, "Stepchildren of the Shtetl" (Stanford UP, 2020)

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Memoirs of Jewish life in the east European shtetl often recall the hekdesh (town poorhouse) and its residents: beggars, madmen and madwomen, disabled people, and poor orphans. Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800-1939 (Stanford University Press, 2020) tells the story of these marginalized figures from the dawn of modernity to the eve of the Holocaust.

Combining archival research with analysis of literary, cultural, and religious texts, Natan M. Meir recovers the lived experience of Jewish society's outcasts and reveals the central role that they came to play in the drama of modernization. Those on the margins were often made to bear the burden of the nation as a whole, whether as scapegoats in moments of crisis or as symbols of degeneration, ripe for transformation by reformers, philanthropists, and nationalists.

Shining a light into the darkest corners of Jewish society in eastern Europe―from the often squalid poorhouse of the shtetl to the slums and insane asylums of Warsaw and Odessa, from the conscription of poor orphans during the reign of Nicholas I to the cholera wedding, a magical ritual in which an epidemic was halted by marrying outcasts to each other in the town cemetery―Stepchildren of the Shtetl reconsiders the place of the lowliest members of an already stigmatized minority.

Natan M. Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Professor of Judaic Studies in the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University. He also serves as a museum consultant and leads study tours of Eastern Europe with Ayelet Tours.

503-828-5303, meir@pdx.edu

Steven Seegel is a Professor of History at the University of Northern Colorado

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Aug 19 2020

58mins

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Will Smiley, "From Slaves to Prisoners of War: The Ottoman Empire, Russia, and International Law" (Oxford UP, 2018)

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In his book From Slaves to Prisoners of War: The Ottoman Empire, Russia, and International Law (Oxford University Press, 2018), Will Smiley examines the emergence of rules of warfare surrounding captivity and slavery in the context of Ottoman-Russian military rivalry between 1700 and 1878. This remarkably well-researched and carefully argued monograph uncovers a vibrant inter-imperial legal regime, challenging many conventional narratives about the expansion of modern international law and the European states system. Its pages provide ample material with which we can rethink the supposed linear decline of Ottoman state power and the nature of pre-modern diplomacy, sovereignty, and governance in Eurasian empires.

While traditional accounts of modern international law mainly focus on intellectual and political developments in the Western world, Smiley shows how two states on the European periphery worked out their own rules – their own international law governing the movement of captives, slaves, and prisoners of war across imperial frontiers. The story that emerges is not one of the Ottoman state’s joining an outside system of law. On the contrary, both in the eighteenth century and the even more challenging nineteenth, the Sublime Porte actively shaped the rules by which it was bound.

Will Smiley is an Assistant Professor in the Humanities Program at the University of New Hampshire and a historian of Eurasia, the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire, and international law.

Vladislav Lilić is a doctoral candidate in Modern European History at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the place and persistence of quasi-sovereignty in late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Southeastern Europe. Vladislav’s other fields of interest include the socio-legal history of empire, global history of statehood, and the history of international thought. You can reach him at vladislav.lilic@vanderbilt.edu.

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Aug 18 2020

1hr 12mins

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Madina Tlostanova, "What Does it Mean to be Post-Soviet? Decolonial Art from the Ruins of the Soviet Empire" (Duke UP, 2018)

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In What Does it Mean to be Post-Soviet? Decolonial Art from the Ruins of the Soviet Empire (Duke University Press, 2018), Madina Tlostanova traces how contemporary post-Soviet art mediates this human condition. Observing how the concept of the happy future—which was at the core of the project of Soviet modernity—has lapsed from the post-Soviet imagination, Tlostanova shows how the possible way out of such a sense of futurelessness lies in the engagement with activist art. She interviews artists, art collectives, and writers such as Estonian artist Liina Siib, Uzbek artist Vyacheslav Akhunov, and Azerbaijani writer Afanassy Mamedov who frame the post-Soviet condition through the experience and expression of community, space, temporality, gender, and negotiating the demands of the state and the market. In foregrounding the unfolding aesthesis and activism in the post-Soviet space, Tlostanova emphasizes the important role that decolonial art plays in providing the foundation upon which to build new modes of thought and a decolonial future.

Madina Tlostanova is professor of postcolonial feminisms at Linköping University (Sweden).

Steven Seegel is professor of history at University of Northern Colorado.

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Aug 14 2020

58mins

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Sonya Bilocerkowycz, "On Our Way Home from the Revolution: Reflections on Ukraine" (Mad Creek Books, 2019)

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It’s been a difficult year in America. From plague, to protests, to politics, there have never been so many lives at stake, nor so many questions about the future of our country.

Since his election in 2016, questions have been raised about president Trump’s too-close-for-comfort ties to Russian leadership and intelligence. Lately, his antagonism toward infectious disease science and CDC guidelines in addition to his deployment of federal troops into American cities to silence protestors have led many to compare the current regime to authoritarian governments of long ago wars.

But the truth is, very little about these tactics are new. In other parts of the world, such as in Ukraine, citizens know them, resist them, and subvert them in a way Americans are just learning how to.

In her striking debut, On Our Way Home from the Revolution: Reflections on Ukraine (Mad Creek Books), author Sonya Bilocerkowycz speculates on the possibility of future revolutions built on the lessons of revolutions past—both big, and small. Her essays expertly weave personal narrative as a member of the Ukrainian-American diaspora into research about Ukrainian myth, politics, history, art, and more, in one great cultural examination of Ukraine that is as timely as it is thoughtful.

Bilocerkowcyz’s unique perspective as a Ukrainian-American sheds necessary light onto the darkness of America’s current political moment, her voice a guide to finding our way home.

Today on New Books in Literature, please join us as we sit down with Sonya Bilocerkowcyz to learn more about On Our Way Home from the Revolution, available now.

Zoë Bossiere is a doctoral student at Ohio University, where she studies creative nonfiction and teaches writing classes. For more NBN interviews, follow her on Twitter @zoebossiere or head to zoebossiere.com

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Aug 10 2020

40mins

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Great content needs great equipment

By dickmodel69 - Jun 16 2019
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Really interesting and insightful conversations but the quality of people calling in is very poor. It is sometimes very hard to follow along because of that.

The Cold War, a world history

By slimvlady - Oct 15 2018
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Doesn’t anyone listen to this podcast before you post them? The sound quality was horrible. The subject matter was interesting enough to keep me listening until I couldn’t stand to listen any longer. The interviewer sounded like he was in an echo chamber and the interviewee sounded like he was on a cell phone that kept going in and out of range. It sounds so amateur it’s hard to take you guys seriously. Try having a little pride in the quality of what you do. Perhaps your podcast would be more successful and you would even attract donations