Sovietology, Rationality, Nationality: Coming to Grips with Nationalism in the USSR

Sovietology, Rationality, Nationality: Coming to Grips with Nationalism in the USSR

Sovietology, Rationality, Nationality: Coming to Grips with Nationalism in the USSR

Sovietology, Rationality, Nationality: Coming to Grips with Nationalism in the USSR

Excerpt

It's moving behind me! Under me! Hollow. Listen! It's all hollow down there!

-- Georg Buchner, Woyzeck

This book is the product of nagging doubts about the intellectual legitimacy of Sovietology, a firm belief that only theory can transform Sovietology into a stimulating vocation, and the no less firm suspicion that even theory cannot resolve the epistemological dilemmas of the social sciences. This book, then, is as much about studying the Soviet Union as it is about the Soviet Union. Indeed, I am persuaded that there is no substantive difference between these two pursuits: as it is impossible to gain unmediated access to the reality of the Soviet Union, Sovietologists can never escape the intellectual webs of their own profession. In a very real sense, therefore, to study the Soviet Union is to study the study of the Soviet Union.

As the last sentence suggests, this book is self-reflective, perhaps to a degree that some readers will find alienating. It also rests on doubt, admittedly uncertain ground on which to build a scholarly edifice, but there is, I submit, no alternative to such self-reflection and doubt -- except for an unwarranted and even more alienating . . .

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