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The question of national identity is central to the future of Russia. This extensive analysis, spans three centuries of Russian cultural history to place post-communist Russia within a broad historical background. The author focuses on three ways of defining Russia and Russians: Russia as a counterpart to the West; Russians as creators of a unique multi-ethnic community; and Russians as members of the community of Eastern Slavs. She then demonstrates how these three perspectives have dominated the views of Russia in the modern era and traces their origins back to writers and historians in the eighteenth century. Combining a rich historical study with a rigorous analytical framework, the book is an essential tool for understanding contemporary Russia.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] substantive and solid overview of the basic concepts and formative issues related to Russian nationalism...[A] valuable addition to the existing studies on these issues."—Slavic and East European Jourbanal

“…[A] major contribution towards elucidating how Russians' own understanding of themselves has evolved over the past three centuries. Most previous Western histories have treated the Soviet Union as an irrelevant or regressive period in the evolution of Russian nationhood. Tolz ‘brings back the Soviet Union,’ not idealizing it but showing that it played its own paradoxical and ambivalent role.”—Times Literary Supplement

“…[Thoroughly] researched and clearly written…Reading the book is illuminating…”—History: Reviews of New Books

“Although a volume so kaleidoscopic in content, so allusive in argument, and so multilayered in construction necessarily yields more to those familiar with the subject than it can to the novice, Tolz writes vigorously throughout, and readers at all levels of sophistication will have something to learn from her consistently interesting book.”—Slavonica

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780340677056
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 3/31/2001
  • Series: Inventing the Nation Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Vera Tolz is Professor of Russian Studies, University of Manchester.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations
General Editor's Preface
Map 1 The territory of the Moscow Principality in the early sixteenth century
Map 2 The Russian empire at its greatest extent
Introduction: Russian identity between empire and the West 1
Pt. 1 Laying the foundation
1 The reign of Peter the Great: the beginning of modern Russia 23
2 Peter's legacy: the emergence of intellectual debate 45
Pt. 2 Russian identity and the 'other'
3 Russia and the West 69
4 Russia and the East 132
Pt. 3 Defining Russian identity
5 Imaginative geography: Russian empire as a Russian nation-state 155
6 Imaginative ethnography: who are the Russians? 191
7 Ukraine in the Russian national consciousness 209
Pt. 4 Russia and the Russians today
8 National identity and nation-building after the USSR 235
Conclusions: Russian tradition and the post-communist concept of nationhood 270
Selected bibliography 275
Index 291
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