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Mythmaking in the New Russia: Politics and Memory in the Yeltsin Era

Smith, Kathleen E.

ISBN 10: 0801439639 / ISBN 13: 9780801439636
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Titel: Mythmaking in the New Russia: Politics and ...

Einband: Hardcover

Beschreibung:

Ithaca, NY. Cornell University Press, 2002. Hardcover. No dustjacket. 256pp.After the collapse of Communist rule in 1991, those loyal to the old regime tried to salvage their political dreams by rejecting some aspects of their history and embracing others. Yeltsin and the democrats, although initially hesitant to rely on the patriotic mythmaking they associated with Communist propaganda, also turned to the national past in times of crisis, realizing they needed not only to create new institutions, but also to encourage popular support for them.Kathleen E. Smith examines the use of collective memories in Russian politics during the Yeltsin years, surveying the various issues that became battlegrounds for contending notions of what it means to be Russian. Both the new establishment and its opponents have struggled to shape versions of past events into symbolic political capital. What parts of the Communist past, Smith asks, have proved useful for interpreting political options? Which versions of their history have Russians chosen to cling to, and which Soviet memories have they deliberately tried to forget? What symbols do they hold up as truly Russian? Which will help define the attitudes shaping Russian policy for decades to come?Smith illustrates the potency of memory debates across a broad range of fields--law, politics, art, and architecture. Her case studies include the changing interpretations of the attempted coups of 1991 and 1993, the recasting of the holiday calendar, the controversy over the national anthem, the status of "trophy art" brought to Russia at the end of World War II, and the partisan use of historical symbols in elections.text. Condition : very good. ISBN 9780801439636 [KEYWORDS: RUSSIA. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 21409

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Inhaltsangabe: After the collapse of Communist rule in 1991, those loyal to the old regime tried to salvage their political dreams by rejecting some aspects of their history and embracing others. Yeltsin and the democrats, although initially hesitant to rely on the patriotic mythmaking they associated with Communist propaganda, also turned to the national past in times of crisis, realizing they needed not only to create new institutions, but also to encourage popular support for them.Kathleen E. Smith examines the use of collective memories in Russian politics during the Yeltsin years, surveying the various issues that became battlegrounds for contending notions of what it means to be Russian. Both the new establishment and its opponents have struggled to shape versions of past events into symbolic political capital. What parts of the Communist past, Smith asks, have proved useful for interpreting political options? Which versions of their history have Russians chosen to cling to, and which Soviet memories have they deliberately tried to forget? What symbols do they hold up as truly Russian? Which will help define the attitudes shaping Russian policy for decades to come?Smith illustrates the potency of memory debates across a broad range of fields?law, politics, art, and architecture. Her case studies include the changing interpretations of the attempted coups of 1991 and 1993, the recasting of the holiday calendar, the controversy over the national anthem, the status of "trophy art" brought to Russia at the end of World War II, and the partisan use of historical symbols in elections.

Rezension: "This is a novel and welcome contribution to the social science literature on post-Soviet Russia. Rather than offering the traditional focus on institutions and political elites, Smith focuses on the pivotal events of Russia's bumpy transition to democracy and the ways in which two key groups?Yeltsin's 'democrats' and the opposition 'red-brown' coalition?framed these events to their advantage. . . . This book is recommended for general readers and scholars familiar with Russia."?Choice, Vol. 40, No. 3, November 2002

"Collective memory can be the stuff of politics. In the battle to shape it, Smith argues, Russia's liberals have been dilatory and ineffective. . . . Smith's message in this interesting cut at the quest of Russian elites to find and exploit national identity does not suggest that the conservatives have gotten their way. "?Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs, November/December 2002

"An illuminating story of citizens and politicians attempting to redefine themselves against a backdrop of seventy-four years of an increasingly bankrupt Soviet system. . . . This book provides an essential perspective on the culture wars of Russia's transition to democracy."?Michael G. Smith, Purdue University, American Historical Review, June 2003

"For now, we have an excellent survey of the politics of memory in the 1990s that will appeal to professionals and students alike."?Catherine Merridale, University of Bristol, UK. Slavic Review, Summer 2003.

"One of the best assessments of the Russian political situation at the end of the twentieth century, Smith's book demonstrates the author's talents as an insightful and shrewd analyst, able to integrate contemporary cultural history and Russian domestic politics. Without simplifying complex, often conflicting crosscurrents, she has produced a well-written, jargonless, and well-argued book, which all instructors of Russian and post-Soviet politics courses should seriously consider adopting."?George O. Liber, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Perspectives on Politics 1:2, June 2003

"Kathleen E. Smith's book fills a gaping hole in the growing literature on the new Russia of the 1990s. Smith casts light on the decade's central question: Who do the Russians think they are? As readers of Mythmaking in the New Russia will immediately understand, Russians individually and collectively have yet to agree on an appropriate answer to this deceptively simple question. Smith reveals why Russia's future is so uncertain: identity matters."?Blair Ruble, Director, Woodrow Wilson Center

"Powerful, probing and profound, this remarkable book draws us into the world of contemporary Russian symbols and myths. Smith's keen analysis brings new and vibrant meaning to key moments and issues in the tumultuous decade following the collapse of the USSR." ?Professor Nina Tumarkin, author, The Living and the Dead: The Rise and Fall of the Cult of World War II in Russia

"Kathleen Smith's Mythmaking in the New Russia: Politics and Memory during the Yeltsin Era is an engagingly imaginative work full of both sound interpretations and incisive analysis."?Michael Urban, University of California Santa Cruz

"With her careful recounting of the post-Soviet conflicts over symbols, commemorations, and historical interpretation, Kathleen E. Smith not only illuminates the celebration of centralist statism and the utter marginalization of political liberalism, she demonstrates convincingly that symbols were themselves the stuff of politics."?John Bushnell, Northwestern University

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