Ten Years after the "Remarkable Decade"

Kritika, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Ten Years after the "Remarkable Decade"


In the spring of 2001, a still youthful Kritika reflected on the "remarkable decade" since the fall of communism. Back then, such an exercise in historiographical retrospection required absolutely no apology. The 1990s had indeed been exciting times; expectations ran high that new archival access would transform scholarly habits, that the way would be open to new and more productive forms of intellectual exchange across national boundaries, and that paradigm shifts would not be far behind. Even if scholarly output did not bear out the more outlandish projections--the effects of the "archival revolution," for example, were more incremental than transformational--there was an enormous amount for the 15 authors of the 2001 special issue to reflect on. (1)

How, though, do we justify a further long look backward in 20117 After all, the second post-Soviet decade has ostensibly been more workaday than remarkable. The most eye-catching areas of post-glasnost' historiography--the Terror, the Gulag, Stalinist "civilization"--have generated such a volume of research that it is almost inconceivable now for a single work to make the impact of Magnetic Mountain or Everyday Stalinism. (2) The archival gold rush is no more, and researchers in certain fields have settled back into the familiar pattern of only limited access to the documents that most interest them. As Russian politics has become more predictable--and, on balance, more distasteful--to Western observers, professional historians of Russia have a reduced capacity to hold the attention of the wider public.

We believe, however, that there are good reasons not to be blase. Historians need time to work through the intellectual consequences of epoch-defining events; ours is a "delayed-reaction" profession. By this logic, one might expect the most meaningful historiographical responses to the fall of communism to come not in the first half of the 1990s but a decade or so later--on the completion of the life cycle of the first postarchival Ph.D. projects. Nowhere is this hypothesis more amply borne out than in the field of Soviet history. The headline story of the 2000s has been the rise to prominence and maturity of postwar and post-Stalin history, whose practitioners have a sense of common purpose that was previously a Stalin-era monopoly. Very soon, moreover, it will be possible to speak of the hitherto oxymoronic field of "post-Soviet history": already researchers are interested less in the causes of the Soviet collapse than in the nature and extent of continuity across the 1991 divide.

Yet, while noteworthy, these shifts in historiographical perspective are fairly predictable consequences of "objective" changes in the research environment: with the passing of time, the opening of archives up to the 1970s, and new opportunities for fieldwork and oral history, it was only to be expected that scholars would turn their attention to the later decades of Soviet history. The intellectual vibrancy of recent times is even more striking in fields farther removed from the present day. The topics of the ten essays here overlap very little with those of the 2001 special issue. This is not a matter of change for change's sake. Partly it has to do with the opening or expansion of new areas of research, but mainly it results from the rethinking of fields of inquiry and the redrawing of intellectual boundaries. Take, for example, the Stalinist 1930s, which accounted for 2 of the 11 main essays in 2001. This time around there is no specially designated piece on the interwar period. But that does not mean that the Stalin era is absent from our thoughts: two of the essays (on war and society and on transnational history) draw much of their material from the 1930s and 1940s. Assumptions of Soviet isolationism have given way to wide-ranging exploration of Russia's 20th-century interactions--whether cultural, economic, or political--with the wider world. Ten years ago it was still possible to study World War II in Europe without taking much interest in the Eastern front; it was left to an eminent historian of Nazi Germany to make the case to a general historical audience that "Russia's war" mattered. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ten Years after the "Remarkable Decade"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.