Solovyovo

Solovyovo : The Story of Memory in a Russian Village

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In a small village beside a reed-lined lake in the Russian north, a cluster of farmers has lived for centuries-in the time of tsars and feudal landlords; Bolsheviks and civil wars; collectivization and socialism; perestroika and open markets. Solovyovo is about the place and power of social memory. Based on extensive anthropological fieldwork in that single village, it shows how villagers configure, transmit, and enact social memory through narrative genres, religious practice, social organization, commemoration, and the symbolism of space. Margaret Paxson relates present-day beliefs, rituals, and practices to the remembered traditions articulated by her informants. She brings to life the everyday social and agricultural routines of the villagers as well as holiday observances, religious practices, cosmology, beliefs and practices surrounding health and illness, the melding of Orthodox and communist traditions and their post-Soviet evolution, and the role of the yearly calendar in regulating village lives. The result is a compelling ethnography of a Russian village, the first of its kind in modern, North American anthropology.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 30.5mm | 567g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 0253218012
  • 9780253218018
  • 1,086,591

Review quote

Woodrow Wilson Center Press has published a new book, Solovyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village by Margaret Paxson, senior associate of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute. It is copublished with Indiana University Press. Solovyovo is a small village beside a reed-lined lake in the Russian north, where a cluster of farmers has lived for centuries--in the time of tsars and feudal landlords; Bolsheviks and civil wars; collectivization and socialism; perestroika and open markets. Based on extensive anthropological fieldwork in that single village, this volume shows how villagers configure, transmit, and enact social memory through narrative genres, religious practice, social organization, commemoration, and the symbolism of space. Margaret Paxson relates present-day beliefs, rituals, and practices to the remembered traditions articulated by her informants. She brings to life the everyday social and agricultural routines of the villagers as well as holiday observances, religious practices, cosmology, beliefs and practices surrounding health and illness, the melding of Orthodox and communist traditions and their post-Soviet evolution, and the role of the yearly calendar in regulating village lives. The result is a compelling ethnography of a Russian village, the first of its kind in modern, North American anthropology. "Paxson makes a huge contribution to our knowledge of the Russian village, an ancient human institution whose uniqueness has survived wars and revolutions for centuries. One's sense of Russia will never be quite the same after reading her book," said Robert G. Kaiser, author of Russia: The People and the Power, and Why Gorbachev Happened. "Through intensive, careful ethnographic conversations and participant observation over several years, Margaret Paxson has uncovered a stunning cosmology that frames both ritual and everyday practices in a contemporary Russian village...Scholars and students of Russian folklore, literature, culture, and sociology will find great value in this groundbreaking and beautifully written work," wrote Nancy Ries of Colgate University. Margaret Paxson is senior associate at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has published articles in The Washington Post Sunday Magazine and the Wilson Quarterly. The author is available for interviews; please contact Sharon McCarter at 202-691-4016 or sharon.mccarter@wilsoncenter.org.WILSON QUARTERLY, January 27, 2006 "... a remarkable achievement... the best ethnographic study of Russian country people available today." -Caroline Humphrey, TLS "The book, based on in-depth participant-observation and interviews in the mid-1990s, presents in arresting imagery the everyday life of a northwestern Russian village the author calls Solovyovo. It paints the kind of memorable tableaux that one might expect from a talented novelist, and in this sense it indeed weaves a kind of story... Engaged readers... will find a great deal of value and subtlety in Paxson's story." -Jennifer Patico, Georgia State University, AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST, Vol. 36.3 August 2009 "While Paxson's book explains the memory of landscape of Russian peasants, and by extension Russian culture more generally, I recommend it to anyone interested in human beings and who like to read good books." -Slavonic and East European Review "... would be of great interest to scholars from a wide range of discipines-anthropology, cultural studies, history, and political science. It would be of great value for scholars of Russia and those working on other settings, who are bound to draw rich insight and material for comparative analysis from this important book" -Asia Studies 59:7 (rec'd 1/08) "What is the opposite of ivory tower? The black earth of Solovyovo, perhaps? Margaret Paxson, a brilliant anthropologist, has gotten her hands-and a lot else besides-dirty in the mud of a Russian village, to the enormous benefit of the readers of her new book. Paxson makes a huge contribution to our knowledge of the Russian village, an ancient human institution whose uniqueness has survived wars and revolutions for centuries. One's sense of Russia will never be quite the same after reading her book." -Robert G. Kaiser, author of Russia: The People and the Power, and Why Gorbachev Happenedshow more

About Margaret Paxson

Margaret Paxson is Senior Associate at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has published articles in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine and the Wilson Quarterly.show more

Table of contents

Preface Iuliia's Hands Chapter 1: Memory's Topography Memories as Social Acts Continuity and Change Memory as Landscape Chapter 2: Setting the Village in Space and Time The Village Question Solovyovo in Space and Time Chapter 3: Being "One's Own" in Solovyovo Introduction: Social Circles Solovyovo's Sense of Svoi Basic Economic Organization On Unevenness: Hierarchy in Solovyovo Gathering the Other into the Realm of the Self Chapter 4: Radiance Introduction: Narrative Landscapes Svetloe Proshloe: The Radiant Past Rethinking the Radiant Past Chapter 5: Wonders Mir Chudesnogo: The World of Wonders Wonderous Stories Political Wonders "Vse takie, doma luchshe": Anyway, home is best Chapter 6: Healing Setting Space Right Healing, Religion & Magic: Looking for Transformative Powers Obrashchenie in Solovyovo Setting Space Wrong: How Illness Falls Setting Space Right: Heaviness & Lightness Fixing the Social Body through "Dobrom Dobro" Setting Space Right: The Dead, The Rod, Rodina Chapter 7: The Red Corner Introduction: Layers of Memory Krasnyi Ugol: Red and Beautiful Corner Icons in Corner Space Misbehaving Icons Local Khoziaeva in the Corner Chapter 8: Calendars Calendrical Topography: The Poetics of Revelry Calendars in Rural Russia: Confrontations of Time-Space Memory and Necessity Gulianki and Il'in Den' Victory Day and State Remembrance Days Troitsa and Remembrance Days of the Rodina Afterword On Lightness and Weight Referencesshow more

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