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Ruling peasants : village and state in late Imperial Russia /
Corinne Gaudin.
imprint
DeKalb, Ill. : Northern Illinois University Press, c2007.
description
x, 271 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0875803709 (clothbound : alk. paper), 9780875803708 (clothbound : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
DeKalb, Ill. : Northern Illinois University Press, c2007.
isbn
0875803709 (clothbound : alk. paper)
9780875803708 (clothbound : alk. paper)
catalogue key
6124201
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [253]-264) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-01-01:
This study based on an impressive amount of archival research in the archives of Ryazan and Tver provinces is an effort to depict the interaction between the czarist bureaucracy and the peasantry in the last years of czarism, when the government tried to reform the life of the peasantry despite officials' conviction that the peasants would resist change because of ignorance and obstinacy. Gaudin (Univ. of Ottawa) shows that the peasants used the innovations promoted by the government--in particular, the volost court and the commune--to protect their interests and frustrate rival claimants. Problems resulted from official efforts to maintain administrative discretion instead of a system based on law. Resistance to change characterized officials, not peasants. Peasants used the courts and legal system to their advantage in ordinary times. When war came and peasants were asked to secure the tenure of war widows and children while husbands and fathers were off at the front, an already difficult situation worsened. The peasants turned to repartition, not because of opposition to private property, but to resolve issues that the courts had not resolved. Unlike officials whose experiences with the peasants confirmed their preconceptions, the peasants actively engaged with the state, which proved incapable of resolving their problems. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. Balmuth emeritus, Skidmore College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Richly detailed and thoroughly researched. A must-read for those interested in peasant studies, the courts, and administration in late Imperial Russia."- Canadian Journal of History "A commendable and careful reading of a variety of published and archival sources, including documents from a number of provinical archives, supports the book's argument. Students of Russian history or the history of peasant societies in general will benefit greatly from the book's impeccable penned interpretation."- The Russian Review "Deeply researched, well-written. Key reading for all who teach late imperial history."- Slavic Review
“Richly detailed and thoroughly researched. A must-read for those interested in peasant studies, the courts, and administration in late Imperial Russia.”- Canadian Journal of History “A commendable and careful reading of a variety of published and archival sources, including documents from a number of provinical archives, supports the book's argument. Students of Russian history or the history of peasant societies in general will benefit greatly from the book's impeccable penned interpretation.”- The Russian Review "Deeply researched, well-written. Key reading for all who teach late imperial history."- Slavic Review
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, January 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Who ruled the countryside in late Imperial Russia? On the rare occasions that tsarist administrators dared pose the question so boldly, they reluctantly answered that the peasants ruled. Historians have largely echoed this assessment, pointing to the state's failure to penetrate rural society as a key reason for the tsarist government's collapse. Ruling Peasants challenges this dominant paradigm of the closed village by investigating the ways peasants engaged tsarist laws and the local institutions that were created in a series of contradictory legal, administrative, and agrarian reforms from the late 1880s to the eve of World War I. Gaudin's analysis of the practices of village assemblies, local courts, and elected peasant elders reveals a society riven by dissension. As villagers argued among themselves in terms defined by government, the peasants and their communities were transformed. Key concepts such as 'custom,' 'commune,' 'property,' and 'fairness' were forged in such dialogue between the rulers and the ruled. By the end of the 19th century, the framework of dialogue between the peasants and the state no longer worked. The more peasants used the institutions and laws available to them, the more they solicited the authorities, and the greater the obstacles to communication grew. Villagers' rising expectations for assistance foundered in the face of inconsistent state policies and arbitrary legal responses. Ironically, the success of often contradictory reforms-a success unrecognized by administrators themselves-contributed to undermining the state's legitimacy.
Main Description
Who ruled the countryside in late Imperial Russia? On the rare occasions that tsarist administrators dared pose the question so boldly, they reluctantly answered that the peasants ruled. Historians have largely echoed this assessment, pointing to the state’s failure to penetrate rural society as a key reason for the tsarist government’s collapse. Ruling Peasants challenges this dominant paradigm of the closed village by investigating the ways peasants engaged tsarist laws and the local institutions that were created in a series of contradictory legal, administrative, and agrarian reforms from the late 1880s to the eve of World War I. Gaudin’s analysis of the practices of village assemblies, local courts, and elected peasant elders reveals a society riven by dissension. As villagers argued among themselves in terms defined by government, the peasants and their communities were transformed. Key concepts such as ‘custom,’ ‘commune,’ ‘property,’ and ‘fairness’ were forged in such dialogue between the rulers and the ruled. By the end of the 19th century, the framework of dialogue between the peasants and the state no longer worked. The more peasants used the institutions and laws available to them, the more they solicited the authorities, and the greater the obstacles to communication grew. Villagers’ rising expectations for assistance foundered in the face of inconsistent state policies and arbitrary legal responses. Ironically, the success of often contradictory reforms-a success unrecognized by administrators themselves-contributed to undermining the state’s legitimacy.
Table of Contents
Ideologies of authority and institutional settingsp. 14
Land captains, peasant officials, and the experience of local authorityp. 47
Volost courts and the dilemmas of legal acculturationp. 85
The village assembly and contested collectivismp. 132
The challenges of property reform, 1906-1916p. 169
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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