The Collective and the Individual in Russia: A Study of Practices

Overview


Oleg Kharkhordin has constructed a compelling, subtle, and complex genealogy of the Soviet individual that is as much about Michel Foucault as it is about Russia. Examining the period from the Russian Revolution to the fall of Gorbachev, Kharkhordin demonstrates that Party rituals—which forced each Communist to reflect intensely and repeatedly on his or her "self," an entirely novel experience for many of them—had their antecedents in the Orthodox Christian practices of doing penance in the public gaze. ...
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Overview


Oleg Kharkhordin has constructed a compelling, subtle, and complex genealogy of the Soviet individual that is as much about Michel Foucault as it is about Russia. Examining the period from the Russian Revolution to the fall of Gorbachev, Kharkhordin demonstrates that Party rituals—which forced each Communist to reflect intensely and repeatedly on his or her "self," an entirely novel experience for many of them—had their antecedents in the Orthodox Christian practices of doing penance in the public gaze. Individualization in Soviet Russia occurred through the intensification of these public penitential practices rather than the private confessional practices that are characteristic of Western Christianity. He also finds that objectification of the individual in Russia relied on practices of mutual surveillance among peers, rather than on the hierarchical surveillance of subordinates by superiors that characterized the West. The implications of this book expand well beyond its brilliant analysis of the connection between Bolshevism and Eastern Orthodoxy to shed light on many questions about the nature of Russian society and culture.
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Meet the Author


Oleg Kharkhordin is Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University, and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology, European University at St. Petersburg.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
1 Introduction: Individualism and the Study of Practices 1
2 Reveal, Admonish, Excommunicate: Ecclesiastical Courts and the Central Control Commission 35
3 A "Technology of no Mercy": The Collective as an Object of Knowledge and Action 75
4 Purge and Self-Criticism: The Collective as a Subject of Knowledge and Action 123
5 Revealing the Self: The Individual as an Object of Knowledge and Action 164
6 Working on Oneself: The Individual as a Subject of Knowledge and Action 231
7 The Collective in Mature Soviet Society 279
8 The Individual in Mature Soviet Society 329
9 Conclusion 355
Bibliography 363
Index 389
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