Satlin's Peasants: Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village after Collectivization / Edition 1

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Drawing on newly-opened Soviet archives, especially the letters of complaint and petition with which peasants deluged the Soviet authorities in the 1930s, Stalin's Peasants analyzes peasants' strategies of resistance and survival in the new world of the collectivized village.
Stalin's Peasants is a story of struggle between transformationally-minded Communists and traditionally-minded peasants over the terms of collectivization—a struggle of opposing practices, not a struggle in which either side clearly articulated its position. But it is also a story about the impact of collectivization on the internal social relations and culture of the village, exploring questions of authority and leadership, feuds, denunciations, rumors, and changes in religious observance. For the first time, it is possible to see the real people behind the facade of the "Potemkin village" created by Soviet propagandists. In the Potemkin village, happy peasants clustered around a kolkhoz (collective farm) tractor, praising Stalin and promising to produce more grain as a patriotic duty. In the real Russian village of the 1930s, as we learn from Soviet political police reports, sullen and hungry peasants described collectivization as a "second serfdom," cursed all Communists, and blamed Stalin personally for their plight.
Sheila Fitzpatrick's work is truly a landmark in studies of the Stalinist period—a richly-documented social history told from the traumatic experiences of the long-suffering underclass of peasants. Anyone interested in Soviet and Russian history, peasant studies, or social history will appreciate this major contribution to our understanding of life in Stalin's Russia.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this pathbreaking study, Sheila Fitzpatrick portrays collective farm life in the 1930s from the perspective of the peasantry...Stalin's Peasants is an accessible and fascinating glimpse into the Soviet countryside."—Journal of Social History

"Fitzpatrick makes her account vivid with quotations of first-person experiences, but she resists the temptation to oversimplify the issues."—Kirkus Reviews

"A pioneering piece of historical sociology that delineates the deplorable reality of ideological utopias."—ALA Booklist

"Stalin's Peasants is well-researched and richly detailed. It adds a great deal of new information on rural conditions and attitudes in the 1930s. No other work comes close to it in recounting the tragedy of collectivization from the peasant's point of view."—Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"This is an outstanding contribution both to the history of the USSR and the social history of peasants by a remarkable historian. She makes us hear the Russian peasants of the Stalin era speak (largely via hitherto closed archival records) and the echo of their voices in post-Soviet Russia today."—Eric Hobsbawm, The New School for Social Research

"Fitzpatrick's study is truly a landmark in the historiography of the Stalinist period of Soviet history, something that has been long overdue—a thickly documented social history of 1930s, not from the perspective of the "system" of Stalinism, but of the traumatic experiences and changes in life texture of that long-suffering underclass, the Russian peasantry."—Allan Wildman, Ohio State University

"With prodigious energy and diligence in newly-opened archives and employing the theoretical insights of recent historical and anthropological studies, Sheila Fitzpatrick shows how in the Russian village after collectivization peasants used the 'weapons of the weak' to pry from the Stalinist state what they needed in order to survive. She tells a tragic story filled with small triumphs by the subaltern in dynamic and moving prose. This is an empirical and conceptual tour de force."—Ronald Grigor Suny, The University of Michigan

"Sheila Fitzpatrick has written yet another path-breaking book, introducing us once more to an untold history and hitherto unused sources. She shows that Stalin's peasants were unmistakably kin to the peasants of Peter and Catherine, and the two Nicholases. They resisted the often unbearable pressure of the state as best they could, exploited the regime's dependence upon peasant cooperation, adopted the language of the regime as they pursued their own intravillage feuds, and remained cynically indifferent to the regime's goals."—John Bushnell, Northwestern University

"Fitzpatrick offers the first large-scale study of collectivization and its impact upon the peasantry since the opening of the archives in the late 1980s....Fitzpatrick has written a pioneering book that will inspire future researchers."—International Labor and Working-Class History

"...A work that should be read by all students of Russian and Soviet culture, and will be of interest to sociologists, anthropologists, and anyone interested in cultural theory."—Russian Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195104592
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,036,888
  • Lexile: 1530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.19 (w) x 6.13 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Sheila Fitzpatrick is Bernadotte E. Schmitt Professor of History at the University of Chicago. She is the author or editor of numerous books including The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia (1992).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Resistance Strategies 5
The Potemkin Village 16
Scope of This Study 18
1 The Village of the 1920s 19
The Setting 19
The Kulak Question 28
Conflict Over Religion 33
On the Eve 37
Rumors of Apocalypse 45
2 Collectivization 48
Bacchanalia 48
Struggle 62
Famine 69
Repression 76
3 Exodus 80
Modes of Departure 82
Regulating Departure 90
Under the Passport Regime 95
4 The Collectivized Village 103
Land 104
Membership 111
A Congress and a Charter 117
5 A Second Serfdom? 128
Collective and Private Spheres 130
Tractors and Horses 136
Work and Pay 139
Peasant Grievances 148
6 On the Margins 152
Independents 153
Craftsmen 158
Khutor Dwellers 163
Otkhodniks and Other Wage Earners 164
7 Power 174
Rural Officials 177
Men, Women, and Office 181
Leadership Sale 183
Kolkhoz Chairmen 185
Impact of the Great Purges 197
8 Culture 204
Religion 204
Everyday Life 214
Broken Families 218
Education 224
9 Malice 233
Crime and Violence 234
Shadow of the Kulak 238
Village Feuds 246
Denunciation 254
10 The Potemkin Village 262
Potemkinism 262
New Soviet Culture 268
Celebrity 272
Elections 279
11 The Mice and the Cat 286
Stalin in the Conversation of Rumors 287
How the Mice Buried the Cat 296
Afterword 313
On Bibliography and Sources 321
Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Titles 331
Notes 335
Index 375
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