My interview with Chris Ward about his book Brezhnev’s Folly: The Building of BAM and Late Soviet Socialism is now online.
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- By Sean — 11 years ago
Presidential Archive of the Russian Federation, f. 3, op. 3, d. 65, l. 25-26
To: Cde. Stalin
Copy to Cde. Kaganovich
On 16 October an employee of the Special Department, Cde. Sentaretskaya, opened the daily mail addressed to Cde. Stalin.
In one of the open packages there seemed to be a letter with a small piece of brown colored mass, which appeared to be excrement. According to Cde. Sentaretskaya and other employees, a strong order emanated from the opening of the package.
Appalled and upset Cde. Sentaretskaya, taking the mass, carried it to the bathroom, where she threw it in the toilet. According to her, Cde. Sentaretskaya got dizzy upon exiting the bathroom. Entering the room, she fell on the floor hitting the back of her head. Coming to after several minutes, she said that she was blind. A doctor was sent for, who looked at Cde. Sentaretskaya and not finding any sign of injury, declared that it was necessary that Cde. Sentaretskaya go to the hospital for further observation and examination.
After Cde. Sentaretskaya was taken to the Kremlin hospital, an envelope with leftovers of the mass was taken for examination in the NKVD laboratory.
According to the medical examination (enclosed) and observation in the hospital Cde. Sentaretskaya’s blindness was allegedly caused by hysteria and not from the effects of a chemical substance.
At the present time, since 22 October her sight gradually returned to her.
In regard to safety precautions for employees, workers who open mail are taking the following measures.
1. Those who open mail will be provided with rubber gloves which must be worn with opening letters.
2. A supply of disinfectants has been acquired.
Deputy OS TsK Poskrebyshev
There is a resolution on the document: “To Cdes. Molotov, Andreev, Mikoian, Kaganovich” The document was sent to Molotov, Andreev, and Mikoian.
This document was published in Istochnik, 3, 1993.
- By Sean — 12 years ago
This past weekend, I attended the 38th National Convention for the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS) in Washington DC. It was a wonderful and exciting conference packed with hundreds of panels. Attending all the panels I marked in my program proved to be impossible. There were simply too many overlapping panels and going to four sessions a day was truly exhausting. The amount of brain power needed to listen, process, and participate in the discussion was daunting.
The roundtable I participated on, “What is Soviet?” was well attended for its 8 am time slot. The discussion was lively and provocative, causing me to continue to consider and reconsider my thoughts on the issue. It was quite a success.
But like always, conferences are more about seeing friends and networking. I got to see several friends as well as meet more. To my surprise, I was happy to learn that many of them read this blog and actually enjoy it.
Therefore I want to express my gratitude and regards to many people I met, talked, and drank with. Here are some shout outs in no particular order of importance:
Maya, Brigid, Mike, David Hoffmann, Steve Maddox, Christoph, Dave Reeves, Alex, Tim Johnson, Matthias, Andy, Josh, Oscar, Erica, Margaret, Susan, Georg, Brigitte, Wilson, Martha, Tim Paynich, Christian, and Ed. I’m sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone.
Special thanks to Claudia and Stas for their hospitality.
See you all next year in New Orleans!
- By Sean — 6 years ago
The debate about open access among mostly Russian history specialists is expanding. Steve Barnes, the creator of Russian History Blog, has written a very informative post stressing the inevitability of change in how we conceive, produce and disseminate academic knowledge. Steve also provides informative links about some of the theories, experiments and successes in open access academic publishing.
I think it’s also worth stating that the evolution of this debate is a testament to the value of open access. We are witnessing an intelligent, civil, and lively debate that is not fixed to one venue, in real time, is transparent, and open to all regardless of training, title, or institutional affiliation.
This debate, I’m afraid, would be impossible in an academic journal as it is currently conceived.
I don’t know about others, but I’ve learned more about the ways journals in our field are produced and managed as well as the persistent challenges editors face to consistently provide a high quality product. Despite my disagreements with some of the editors about open access, my appreciation for what they do has grown immensely in the last few days.
Anyway, here’s a excerpt from Steve’s post. I highly recommend it.
I don’t doubt the tremendous value of journals for scholars. I read them regularly, have published in them in the past, and hope to do so in the future. However, I do think we should recognize that our journals as they are currently published do impose certain costs on the academic and intellectual enterprise. These costs are most readily apparent in the limitation of readership, the primary concern of Guillory’s initial post, but as Michael O’Malley (among others) has argued in a pair of blog posts, peer review itself imposes significant costs on the scholarly enterprise.
However, even if we leave aside the question of whether maintaining the status quo is desirable, doing so may prove impossible. Surely the major changes in the publishing world wrought by the digital revolution and the reduction of public funding for higher education and scholarship will impact our academic journals as well. No doubt, they already are. (Our academic monographs will likely change due to similar processes, but I will leave that aside for the moment given that this conversation has focused mostly on journals.) As my colleague Dan Cohen, Director of RRCHNM, has put it in one of his many writings on the subject:
…it’s a collective failure by historians who believe—contrary to the lessons of our own research—that today will be like yesterday, and tomorrow like today. Article-centric academic journals, a relatively recent development in the history of publishing, apparently have existed, and will exist, forever, in largely the same form and with largely the same business model.
Major change is inevitable, argue Cohen and many others like him who have spent years thinking seriously about the intersections of digital technology and historical/humanities scholarship. If so, shouldn’t scholars try to shape the change rather than merely react to that which is imposed upon us?
You can read the rest here.