Social History Yearbook 2004

Russian Social History Yearbook 2004

Social'naja istorija. Ezhegodnik, 2004
(Social History. Yearbook 2004)
Moskva, ROSSPEN, 2005, 461 p.
ISBN 5-8243-0635-4


Labour History

A.K. Sokolov
The Drama of the Working Class and the Future of Labour History in Contemporary Russia

While in Soviet times hundreds of scholars studied the history of the working class only a few of them remained loyal to the subject up to the present day. The paper addresses some of the causes of this in many aspects "dramatic" turnaround and aims to formulate some new directions in labour history using insights from modern social research. To start with, it looks at some old themes from a new perspective: class formation, the end of classes and the role of workers in industrial change, modernisation processes and post-industrial society. The paper also looks at workers' activism in different spatial, ethnic and gender settings. At the centre of the discussion are labour and labour motivation as they evolved at the shop-floor level at different stages in the historical process. The paper stresses the importance of looking at workers from the perspective of everyday life and the household rather than just from a shop-floor perspective. Formulated this way, labour history holds the key for understanding some specific features of twentieth-century history.

L. Siegelbaum
The Late Romance of the Soviet Worker in Western Historiography

This paper analyses the trajectory of western scholarly interest on Soviet labour and working-class history in terms of what I call "the romance of the Soviet worker," that is, the intellectual "seeking and journeying" that reached its apogee in the late 1980s and declined rather swiftly thereafter. The strengths and weaknesses of the historical literature characteristic of the "romance" period were to some extent synonymous with the broader field of labour history as it was practised in the 1970s and '80s. But the romance also was shaped by the peculiarities of both Soviet and western historiography, and epistemological issues arising from difficulties of access to both archival and oral sources. The reinterpretation of "class" that occurred in the 1990s in the work of Sheila Fitzpatrick and Stephen Kotkin and the subsequent de-emphasis of this category in connection with increased attention to the ethnos marked the end of the "romance." A return to working-class history but now chronologically extended to the post-Stalin era and in the form of historical ethnographies that articulate what workers expected of the state and of themselves may be the way to recapture some of the enthusiasm that typified the "romance."

J.-P. Depretto
Official Conceptions of the Working Class in the USSR (1920s-1930s)

The paper examines official conceptions of the working-class as contained in the works of leading theoreticians of the Soviet state and academic specialists in the field. The main focus is on the late NEP-period and the early years of the First Five Year Plan, a crucial moment in the formation of Stalin's personal power. Special attention is devoted to the writings of V.I. Lenin, I.V. Stalin and other prominent state leaders of that period, to the works of the section of the history of the proletariat within the Communist Academy, which was the first academic centre in the USSR to specialise in the field (the writings of M.N. Pokrovsky, his students, and A.M. Pankratova), as well as to the specific way in which the term "proletariat" was understood in Russian Marxism. The development of Marxist historiography in the USSR, the author concludes, was riddled with feuds and conflicts, stifled only at the start of the 1930s when the party leadership imposed a singular historical truth, which researchers had to stick to in all disciplines.

History of Everyday Life

N.L. Pushkareva
History of Private Life and History of Everyday Life: Contents and Conceptions' Correlation

The author examines the concept of "history of everyday life", which she defines as a historiographic discipline, the object of study of which is human commonness in all its facets. According to the author "history of everyday life" brings together history, psychology and ethnography; social-political history centred on daily events with the ethnographic attributes of scientific research, the study of daily life, of life styles and their transformation among different social strata, their behaviour and emotional reactions to concrete life events. The article examines the general theoretical basis of everyday life history, and describes two specific approaches in the field. One of these is the analysis of the macro-context and the historical development of mentality, and the other the micro-historical reconstruction of the past. The diversity within each of these two approaches is described, and some common features are distinguished. The article claims that the study of everyday life requires specific methods and approaches, because it deals with the daily dramas of human life in their low-key, implicit socio-cultural context, and multi-layered discourse.
The author arrives at the conclusion that, all calls for the study of daily life notwithstanding, Russian academics remains a bastion of a strongly modernised, but at heart deeply traditional way of writing history. Acknowledging with regret that, like before, history studies "events", psychology - "emotions", and ethnography - "daily life", the author attempts to formulate some thoughts as to how to overcome these rigid divisions.

P. Shcherbinin
What Did the Soldier's Wife Cry For? (The Everyday Life of Russian Soldiers' Wives in the 18th - early 20th Centuries)

The article examines the legal aspects and the peculiarities of the everyday life of soldier's wives. It offers the first-ever attempt to analyse the way in which soldiers' wives shaped life strategies of their own within the framework of family- and marital relations. In addition to this view from within the family life of soldiers' wives is also described from the perspective of the clergy, the authorities and other social actors, like the land commune, the meschchane, and the landlords. This reconstruction of everyday life draws on primary archival sources, statistical surveys, military and civil law, as well as folklore, and offers a comprehensive view of the legal status of soldiers' wives, their place within the military estate, their social mobility, and the difficulties associated with the independent choice of a profession. Particular attention is devoted to their involvement in prostitution, as well as to the impact of war on the lives and destinies of 19th century Russian women.

E. Kanfer
Everyday Life of Workers at the Enterprise and Beyond its Gates: Prokhorov's Manufacture and the Guzhon Factory in the Late 19th - Early 20th Centuries

Worker memoirs collected in the 1930s in the Soviet Union can be used to uncover elements of the daily lives and social interaction of workers in Imperial Russia. A focus on memoirs from two Moscow plants in particular-Prokhorovskaia and Guzhon-shows that each factory had its own "culture." The predominance of men at the heavy-metal Guzhon factory and the gruelling nature of labour contributed to widespread alcohol consumption-both as a ritual and as an informal activity. If men identified themselves with the shop in which they worked, the absence of factory housing at Guzhon limited their interaction after the workday. The workers of the Prokhorovskaia textile plant, on the other hand, took advantage of the provided factory barracks as a space for various forms of social activity. While factory "spaces"-whether shop or dormitory-shaped the experience of the Prokhorovskaia and Guzhon rank-and-file, individual workers did not usually choose to identify with a larger social group. Unskilled workers seem to have relied most of all upon informal, small-scale social interaction, and, at times, they gathered collectively in opposition to fellow labourers. Everyday life at both the Prokhorovskaia and Guzhon plants was further determined by factors such as gender and age cohort; the never-ending responsibilities of married women workers can hardly compare to the pranks and other adventures that sprinkled the lives of young boys and apprentices.

V.B. Aksenov
Rumours and Fears among the Populace of Petrograd and Moscow in 1917

This article is devoted to the rumours and fears which filled the psychological atmosphere in Petrograd and Moscow during the revolution. During the events of February 1917 people stopped trusting the official papers and a lack of information made them look for it outdoors, joining the mob on the streets and thus "contributing" to the Revolution. The fact that nobody knew what was really happening generated countless rumours on different themes - ranging from public utilities to the political sphere. This general confusion debilitated people and led to the derangement of the psyche. This resulted in an increase of the number of people experiencing mental disorder which far outpaced that of the first weeks of the 1st World War. The author concludes that rumours played a significant role in those tumultuous days and partly determined some of the processes at large during the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Social History of Education

N.N. Niks
The Moscow Professorate during the Second Half of the 19th - Start of the 20th Century

This article studies the scientific, pedagogical, socio-cultural and daily activities of Moscow professors as a group in industrial society during the second half of the 19th - early 20th centuries. The work is written in the tradition of the "new social history" and is based on personal documents: memoirs, letters and diaries. Analysing their numbers, social and national composition, economic and family status, as well as their system of norms and values the author paints a picture of a group which was a distinct intellectual and social leader, contributing to the formation of new personnel, new networks of social communication and the development of a modern set of norms and values in Russian society.

T.B. Kotlova
"I Have a Lot of Good Memories of my Time in Grammar School" (Women's Education in Russia Hundred Years Ago)

The article deals with Russian girls' education in provincial towns at the end of the 19th - early 20th centuries. It is based on materials from the Central Industrial region, in particular from the Moscow, Vladimir, Ivanovo and Yaroslavl archives. Many of the documents which were written by girls studying at grammar schools, like diaries, letters and memoirs, are used for the first time. The article describes the main developments in women's grammar school education in provincial towns, like the increase in the number of schools, their growing popularity, and the democratisation of their social structure. The author provides an overview of curricula, student life, educational work at the grammar schools, leisure and entertainment, public activities. Particular attention is devoted to the spiritual world of students at the grammar schools, to norms and values. The article concludes that educated young women were a formidable force behind the formation of a new type of Russian woman, characterised by a penchant for economic independence, freedom of choice and rational behaviour.

People and Power

V.G. Mosolov
"They fleece us unmercifully..." (What Ordinary Soviet Citizens Told the Agitators)

The article stresses the importance of studying agitators' reports, which provide a good insight into the mindset of ordinary soviet citizens. It analyses in detail the work of agitators in the party-organisation of the Institute of Marxism and Leninism (IMEL) of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the 1930s, both outside of the Institute - among peasants, recruited for construction work in Moscow and textile workers at one of the biggest plants of the branch, as well as within the walls of the institute among the non-scientific staff. The work shows how the comments of the listeners-on reflected acute problems from the life of Soviet citizens - ranging from the effects of the collectivisation in the countryside to the burden of everyday life for simple people. As the totalitarian regime gained firmer and firmer foothold the number and intensity of critical remarks notably decreases. What is more, the agitators themselves attempted to present the state of mind of their audience in a favourable light. This notwithstanding, documents of this kind provide us with an opportunity to hear the live voices of soviet working people and to get acquainted with their assessment of their own lives and of the politics of the country's leadership.

J. Burds
"Moskal'ki": Women Agents and the Nationalist Underground in Western Ukraine, 1944-1948

Drawing from research in archives in Moscow, Kiev, and L'vov, this paper examines the role of gender in the Soviet counter-insurgency in West Ukraine during and after World War II. By the spring of 1944 the Ukrainian Insurrection Army (UPA) and the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) became increasingly dependent upon women and girls to perform duties vital to the Ukrainian nationalist rebels. In response, the Soviet secret police adopted counter-insurgency strategies to target the female element in the anti-Soviet underground. Soviet agentura or informants' networks were increasingly focused on women recruits, even as special tactics were developed to terrorise women rebels. Soviet police tactics had the effect not only of terrorising Ukrainian women in gender-specific ways, but they also provoked a brutal reaction from within the Ukrainian underground itself, so that moskal'ki --ethnic Ukrainian women "collaborators"-- became the targets of reprisals carried out by special underground rebel punitive units.

L.V. Zakharova
Every Soviet Woman Should Have a Dior Dress! (French Influence in Soviet Fashion in 1950s-1960s)

The article deals with a little-known and rather peculiar episode in the development of a consumer culture and the role of fashion in Soviet society - the contacts between Soviet fashion designers and Dior in the 1950s and 1960s. This attempt to borrow advanced "fashion technology" from the West as a model for developing a Soviet fashion industry in the wake of Khrushchev's turn to consumerism is studied on the basis of the archival records documenting its contacts with the Soviet Union stored at the fashion house of Dior in France. The article analyses the tensions and interaction between party officials, foreign trade functionaries, soviet economists, fashion journalists and various categories of the population which surrounded these contacts, using these insights to arrive at some more general observations concerning the nature and limitations of Soviet consumerism.

Sources and Archives

S.V. Zhuravlev
"The NKWD Never Arrests for Nothing": The Specifics of 1930s Investigation Records as a Historical Source

The article is based on the author's work from the early 1990s with the OGPU-NKWD records in the former KGB archives, currently the Central Archive of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation and its Moscow branch. The main focus is on the NKWD interrogation files of the 1930s, addressing their detailed contents, the specifics of analysing the various sorts of records, the significance for the historian of the direct and indirect information they contain, and the verification of information from the point of view of the "classical" criticism of historical source material. At the same time, though, the article is filled with real names and the often tragic life stories that stand behind them.

P.K. Grimsted
Twice Plundered or "Twice Saved"? Identifying Russia's "Trophy" Archives and the Loot of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt

A dramatic element in Russia's current international relations centres on the restitution of archives that the Nazis plundered throughout Europe during World War II and that fell into Soviet hands at the end of the war. The following investigation unravels several major strands in this remarkable story. During the war the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) and related German agencies assigned various parts of looted collections to a number of offices in Berlin and elsewhere, evacuating major components to hideaways in Silesia and the Sudetenland as Allied bombing raids grew more destructive. The Stalinist inheritors of these troves also assigned collections and parts of collections to a variety of agencies and closed archives. Today specialists are challenged to reunite components sundered, shuffled, and dispersed over decades, complicating calls by European countries for Russia to restitute these national records-calls that have thus far met with costly negotiations and only partial success.