Mobilizing Soviet Peasants: Heroines and Heroes of Stalin's Fields

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In the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, a number of peasants turned to shock work (working to produce as much as humanly possible) and became local heroines and heroes, serving as role models for the rest of the rural community. In this compelling work, Mary Buckley explores the neglected story of rural shock work and Stakhanovism in the Soviet countryside and analyzes its relevance for Soviet subjects, society, state and propaganda. Why were some peasants keen to become Stakhanovites? Certainly there were rewards—these workers were glorified in ideology and blazoned in the press as role models for others to emulate. However, local conditions were difficult and Stakhanovites often suffered a lack of support, were ridiculed, and endured hostility and violence. Some gave up, but others remained resolute. The reader is introduced to individuals like Mariia Demchenko, a twenty-two-year-old peasant from the Comintern collective farm in Kiev oblast, Ukraine, who urged those working in sugar beet production to step up their pace and to bombard the country with sugar. Mobilizing Soviet Peasants contextualizes Stakhanovism, considering historical context, changing party priorities, propaganda, the press, the nature of farm leaderships, shortages, peasant attitudes, gender, purges, and local organizations. An innovative look at the complexities of rural Stakhanovism, this book probes behind the ideological lines and jubilant cries of the movement's resounding successes into the handling of the movement by political structures from the Politburo and Central Committee party departments all the way down to the local party, procuracy, farm leadership, and families.

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Editorial Reviews

November 2007 Europe-Asia Studies
Buckley has examined an impressive array of primary sources...her study provides a useful guide to future researchers of Soviet rural affairs....the book serves as a template for the writing of broader Soviet histories.
Spring 2008 Slavic Review
Buckley has written a significant book that addresses major issues in the wider history of the Soviet Union under Stalin and that can be recommended to historians and social scientists, graduate students, and undergraduates taking advanced engaging read...
William G. Rosenberg
This pathbreaking work by a leading analyst of women and women's politics in Soviet and contemporary Russia puts Stalin's countryside in an entirely new light. By demonstrating how and why Stalin's victimized peasantry negotiated rural Stakhanovism, Buckley imaginatively engages the complexities of power, context, agency, mentality, and political culture. A fine work of scholarship and interpretation.
Middle East and Northern Africa
The book will be notable for those interested in Stakhanovism, gender in the Soviet Union, and Soviet rural life in the 1930s.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742541276
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/27/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Buckley is a visiting fellow at Hughes Hall, Cambridge University.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Historical Context Chapter 3 Rural Stakhanovism on Official Agendas Chapter 4 Official Images of Rural Shock Work and Stakhanovism Chapter 5 The Press as Constructor of Images Chapter 6 Specialist Lessons of Stakhanovism Chapter 7 Resistance on the Farm Chapter 8 Political Blindness at the Local Level and Purges Chapter 9 Inadequate Supplies and Poor Conditions Chapter 10 Why Be a Rural Shock Worker and Stakhanovite? Chapter 11 Gender and Stakhanovism Chapter 12 What Was the Significance of Rural Stakhanovism? Chapter 13 Conclusion Chapter 14 Appendix I: Sources and Methodology Chapter 15 Appendix II: Krest'ianskaia Gazeta

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