Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History

Article excerpt

Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. New Series. 1, no. 1 (Winter 2000). 232 pp.

Many historians of Russia and Eastern Europe have fond memories of the old Kritika, a Harvard-based journal that began in 1963 and for twenty years served the profession by publishing review articles and long reviews, primarily of Soviet historical works. Paradoxically, the journal died just before perestroika and the explosion in the West of interest in "Russia." Not until the boom was over and the field was seemingly relegated to being an academic specialization of little political importance, did Kritika breathe new life. However, at a time of budget cuts and declining subscriptions, the new journal has managed to make a splash with its first issue and secure both a devoted readership and an instant reputation as a vehicle for cutting-- edge scholarship.

Three young, talented, and energetic historians-Michael David-Fox of the University of Maryland, Peter Holquist of Cornell, and Marshall Poe of the University of Limerick-became co-editors of the new Kritika, which is based at the Department of History, University of Maryland, and published by Slavica Publishers. It continues the tradition of the old Kritika in welcoming in-depth review articles and footnoted book reviews in excess of the usual 750-word limit. (In fact, of up to 15 double-spaced pages!) Yet the revived Kritika also publishes research articles and investigative essays combining the features of the classic review article with those of a research paper. This last category of articles secured the immediate popularity of the first issue.

Volume One, Number One of new Kritika is a special issue on "Resistance to Authority in Russia and the Soviet Union." The forum opens with Richard Hellie's "Thoughts on the Absence of Elite Resistance in Muscovy" discussing the multiple reasons why the Muscovite elite did not rise up to limit the authority of the autocratic tsar as the West European aristocracy did. Hellie understands "resistance" straightforwardly as a revolt against existing authority, but other authors of the issue proceed to problematize such an identification. Paul W. Werth, in his "From Resistance to Subversion: Imperial Power, Indigenous Opposition, and Their Entanglement," demonstrates the ambiguity of Russian imperialism, which, by "civilizing" the non-Russians, provided them with cultural resources to subvert the imperial models. The notion of "resistance" is further questioned in Lynne Viola's "Popular Resistance in the Stalinist 1930s: Soliloquy of a Devil's Advocate," where it emerges as "only one part, likely a small part, in a wide continuum of societal responses to the Stalinist state that included accommodation, adaptation, acquiescence, apathy, internal emigration, opportunism, and support as well as resistance" (p. 68).

While Viola sees the traditional structures of "the backstage social spaces" as bastions of resistance, Jochen Hellbeck, in his "Speaking Out: Languages of Affirmation and Dissent in Stalinist Russia," argues that resistance to Stalinism was made possible precisely by the mobilizing power of the revolutionary master-- narrative. …