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Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals

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Overview

The Old Faith and the Russian Land is a historical ethnography that charts the ebbs and flows of ethical practice in a small Russian town over three centuries. The town of Sepych was settled in the late seventeenth century by religious dissenters who fled to the forests of the Urals to escape a world they believed to be in the clutches of the Antichrist. Factions of Old Believers, as these dissenters later came to be known, have maintained a presence in the town ever since. The townspeople of Sepych have also been serfs, free peasants, collective farmers, and, now, shareholders in a post-Soviet cooperative. Douglas Rogers traces connections between the town and some of the major transformations of Russian history, showing how townspeople have responded to a long series of attempts to change them and their communities: tsarist-era efforts to regulate family life and stamp out Old Belief on the Stroganov estates, Soviet collectivization drives and antireligious campaigns, and the marketization, religious revival, and ongoing political transformations of post-Soviet times.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Douglas Rogers has produced an incisive analysis of the formation and reconstitution under changing circumstances of moral community among the priestless Old Believers of the Urals. This extraordinarily skillful and instructive account of a community's creation of ethical practices and subjectivities uses ethnography to illuminate history and historical study to elucidate current efforts to define community standards. Rogers's work also speaks powerfully to the role of religion and community in the post-Soviet world more broadly."—David L. Ransel, Robert F. Byrnes Professor of History, Indiana University

"This beautifully written and highly original historical ethnography moves with extraordinary acumen across disciplines and prompts us to rethink ethics, moral personhood, and historical experience in rural Russia. Douglas Rogers's sensitive analysis of the twists and turns of Russian history offers a critique of many theories of transition and breaks new ground in offering fresh perspectives and theoretical tools that are guaranteed to stimulate debate. The Old Faith and the Russian Land is a must-read for anyone interested in the region."—Catherine Wanner, author of Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801475207
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/22/2009
  • Series: Culture and Society after Socialism Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Note on Translation, Transliteration, and Names xvii

Introduction: Ethics, Russia, History 1

Part I An Ethical Repertoire

1 In Search of Salvation on the Stroganov Estates 35

2 Faith, Family, and Land after Emancipation 71

Part II The Generations and Ethics of Socialism

3 Youth: Exemplars of Rural Socialism 107

4 Elders: Christian Ascetics in the Soviet Countryside 147

Part III Struggles to Shape an Emergent Ethical Regime

5 New Risks and Inequalities in the Household Sector 193

6 Which Khoziain? Whose Moral Community? 222

7 Society, Culture, and the Churching of Sepych 246

8 Separating Post-Soviet Worlds? Priestly Baptisms and Priestless Funerals 269

Epilogue 302

Bibliography 307

Index 329

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