Yuri Slezkine is the Jane K. Sather Professor of History at UC Berkeley and the author of many influential works on Russian and Soviet history. His books include Arctic Mirrors: Russia and the Small Peoples of the North and The Jewish Century. His most recent book is The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution published by Princeton University Press.
Smashing Pumpkins, “Zero,” Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, 1995.
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By Sean — 9 years ago
Here’s something that should wet the palates of scholars and induce wet dreams among the necrophiliacs of Soviet history. Ukraine announced that it plans declassify the entire KGB archive dating 1917-1991. The number of documents stamped “secret” and “top secret” is estimated at 800,000. The announcement comes after the law “On the declassification, promulgation, and study of archival documents connected with the Ukrainian Liberation Movement, political repression, and famine in Ukraine” was signed by Viktor Yushchenko on 23 January.
Among the documents are “Cheka instructions, execution lists, deportation maps, albums with photographs of fighters of rebel armies, reports of the KGB to the Central Committee on the development of the Ukrainian dissident movement.” Interestingly, this declassification is so sweeping that it will even go against normal archival practice in protecting living individuals. “Not a single agential file or report that possibly contains information about current politicians will stop the process of declassification,” says Valentin Nalivaichenko, the current head of the Ukrainian Security Service. And what about those who aren’t politicians? Do they or their families have rights to privacy?
The documents will certainly prove to be a treasure trove for historians as Ukrainian police and Party communications to and from Moscow will give some roundabout access to classified documents in Moscow’s FSB archive. But while such a move is welcomed from a scholarly standpoint (though I won’t be rushing to Ukraine since I think there is more to history than being a bloodhound), this shouldn’t justify turning a blind eye to its political dimension. History is about the politics of the present and archives are armories of ammunition. There is no doubt in my mind that this declassification is not about some sudden realization on the part of the Ukraine’s government to reckon with the past. These materials will certainly be employed in the further crafting of Ukraine’s “imagined community” of victimization by, rather than a participant in, the Soviet regime. Sadly, using these documents for this purpose has little to do with scholarly inquiry, history, or even historical reconciliation. It has to do with nationalism.Post Views: 185
By Sean — 11 years ago
I stumbled across quite an interesting Russian website during a search yesterday. The site, ?????? ??????, features complete articles from Soviet newspapers from the 1917 to the 1970s. According to the website’s creators, ?????? ?????? “is not a monument to the Soviet epoch nor a gravestone or epitaph. Rather, it is theater where the themes and decorations, directors and actors constantly alternate though the spectators change for they interpret these newspapers not as they were then, but as they are now. ”
The site features some of the most important newspapers of the Soviet period: Pravda, Izvestiia , Komsomol’skaia pravda, Leningradskaia pravda, Rabochii, Krest’ianskaia gazeta, and many more. The collections vary. Most articles range from roughly the 1930s to the 1960s. I wish that there were more articles from the 1920s since the content of Soviet newspapers was quite amazing. Plus the fact that it would be great to have access to them online since getting a hold a microfilm in the United States for a lot of them is difficult.
Their exhibit for Victory Day is quite impressive.
This articles is featured in Krusenstern’s Blog-Carnival Russian Media.Post Views: 98
By Sean — 5 years ago
To follow up on my post calling for a conversation among Russia specialists about open access publishing, I decided to talk to someone who knows the ins-and-outs of the debate: Dan Cohen. Dan is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University and the Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. He is a big advocate of open access publishing. I thought he might provide some needed information and suggestions about how to think about the potential of open access.
Here’s some of Dan’s musings on the subject:Post Views: 282