Ab Imperio (2010), 4

Ab Imperio (2010), 4
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War and Imperial Society: Dynamics of ‘Friendship’ and ‘Hostility’

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Kazan', Russland 2010: Selbstverlag des Herausgebers
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Organization name
Ab Imperio. Studies of New Imperial History and Nationalism in the Post-Soviet Space
Russian Federation
Postanschrift: P.O. Box 157, Kazan' 420015. Tel./Fax: 7-8432-644-018
Alexander Kaplunovski

Dear friends and colleagues,

"Ab Imperio" editors are pleased to announce the release of the fourth issue of the journal in 2010. "Ab Imperio" is a bilingual (English Russian) international scholarly journal dedicated to the study of empire and nationalism in the post Soviet space. The fourth issue of the journal is devoted to the exploration of "War and Imperial Society: Dynamics of ‘Friendship’ and ‘Hostility’". The language of each publication (Russian or English) is indicated by a letter in brackets.

Please find below the table of contents and visit the website for more information: www.abimperio.net

For submissions, subscription or other inquiries please contact the editors at: <office@abimperio.net>

From Editors

In 1997, Stanley J. Tambiah, the Harvard social anthropologist specializing in South Asia, raised a question that very much resonates with the theme of this issue of Ab Imperio: “How do we understand the shift and dynamics by which friends and neighbors are ‘suddenly’ transformed into enemies and aggressors?”[ Stanley J. Tambiah. Friends, Neighbors, Enemies, Starangers: Aggressor and Victim in Civilian Ethnic Riots, in: Social Science & Medicine, 1997, Vol. 45, P. 1177.] Based on his extensive studies of several large-scale urban riots of the 1980s (he had just published a book on the topic[Stanley J. Tambiah. Leveling Crowds: Ethnonationalist Conflicts and Collective Violence in South Asia. Berkeley 1996.]), Tambiah demonstrated that it was misleading to perceive parts in the interethnic conflict as homogeneous entities. Outside the situation of political mobilization of differences, the very same people could demonstrate solidarity and cooperate, despite ethnic, confessional, and social class divides. In this respect Tambiah, who relied on empirical microanalysis of case studies of urban riots in Sri Lanka or Delhi, corroborated critical and even skeptical theoretical approaches to the category of “ethnic violence” as demonstrated by sociologists and political scientists such as Rogers Brubaker, David Laitin, and James Fearon:

““ethnic violence” is… a category of practice, produced and reproduced by social actors…, that should not be (but often is) taken over uncritically as a category of analysis by social scientists… Ethnicity is not the ultimate, irreducible source of violent conflict… Rather, conflicts driven by struggles for power between challengers and incumbents are newly ethnicized, newly framed in ethnic terms.”[ Rogers Brubaker and David D. Laitin. Ethnic and Nationalist Violence, in: Annual Review of Sociology, 1998, Vol. 24, Pp. 446, 425]

To explain how actual neighbors (not sociologically aggregated groups) begin killing each other, turning from “friends” into “enemies,” Tambiah found it necessary to introduce a fourth element into this social equation: “strangers.” Generally speaking, while “friends” become enemies during the conflict, it is not the immediate neighbors but the outsiders-strangers who actually set houses on fire, loot, and murder. In fact, students of Jewish pogroms in the Russian empire follow the very same logic when they insist that it was primarily peasants from the outside of shtetls and towns who arrived at the site of a pogrom to plunder and commit acts of violence. Sociologically speaking, they were “neighbors”-turned-enemies, but in each individual case they were strangers to their victims.

Obviously, after Neighbors by Jan Gross, scholars can no longer entertain the illusion that outbursts of violence among former “friends” should be explained by a conspiracy of ominous “strangers” – and thus a convenient explanatory tool is discarded. The current issue of Ab Imperio “War and Imperial Society: Dynamics of ‘Friendship’ and ‘Hostility’” can be seen as an attempt to offer a different explanation for the ambiguous and fluid differentiation of society into “friends” and “neighbors.”

In the imperial situation, it is difficult to clearly separate a civil war from war with foreign enemy, inasmuch as one’s self-identification with a group and group interests is not bound by political borders. How did Russian francophone aristocrats feel fighting Napoleon’s army? Was the Ottoman empire perceived as an enemy by Russian Muslim soldiers? As the articles published in this issue of the journal demonstrate, any military conflict results in complex social polarization: war with a foreign enemy generates mistrust of one’s own soldiers who became prisoners of war (POWs), and at the same time encourages the identification of a certain category of captured enemies as “friends” (to be used against their former comrades in arms).

In the “Methodology” section, the Cambridge anthropologist, Caroline Humphrey, offers her solution to the dilemma formulated by Stanley J. Tambiah. She turns to the paradigmatic case of the late imperial city of Odessa, a bustling cosmopolitan port city but also the site of several large-scale Jewish pogroms, including the horrible one of October 1905. Drawing from her interpretation of Gabriel Tarde’s sociology to describe the dialectic connectedness of the seemingly contradictory phenomena of social solidarity and conflicting differentiation, Humphrey advances a model of the cognitive mechanism that allows individuals to shift back and forth from “neighborship” to “enmity.”

The situation of neighbors turned enemies, further complicated by war and the arrival of the ruthless “stranger”-occupant, a convenient figure on whom to place all the blame for the horrors of genocide, is at the center of other materials in the “Methodology” section. In this final issue of the journal in the annual cycle, the editors returned to the theme raised in the first issue of 2010: the theme of the ambivalent role of the Ukrainian national movement during World War II, particularly its complicity in the Holocaust. As the discussion of the recent book by Omer Bartov revealed in AI 1/2010, both Ukrainian and foreign specialists in Ukrainian history prefer to see the Nazis as wholly responsible for the extermination of Ukrainian Jews. Likewise, the Ukrainian national movement is conceptualized as having opposed the two alien totalitarian regimes of occupants, those of Hitler and Stalin. It is tacitly implied that the historical memory about Jews in modern Ukraine has become “erased” because Jews themselves were strangers to the land of “true Ukrainians.” In AI 4/2010, we publish an extensive critical analysis of this dominant historiographic trend by John-Paul Himka. His is a minority opinion among the historians of Ukraine, as Himka not only points to the participation of Ukrainian nationalist guerillas in the extermination of Jews, but also treats it as an integral part of the Ukrainian national project. According to Himka, the genocide of neighbors (Poles and Jews) became accepted as a part of the Ukrainian national project. War is often regarded as a historical context justifying the many innocent victims (“collateral damage”), but Himka shows that there was nothing accidental about those victims. The choice of a victim is an important element in strengthening the community of horizontal solidarity (i.e., “nation”), and participation in persecutions is often required as a proof of one’s belonging to the community of persecutors. “Ethnicization of conflict” is a result of the choice of a particular political project of nationbuilding founded on the principles of “blood and soil,” and not of any “objectively” preexisting national conflicts. Therefore, Himka calls for breaking with the legacy of Ukrainian nationalists of the mid-twentieth century, which only compromises the modern Ukrainian national project.

Taking as a point of departure the twofold research framework elaborated in the “Methodology” section (the cognitive model of individual choice of behavior and the structural situation of one’s belonging to a certain social group), the “History” section presents seven distinctive historical cases. Sean Pollock shows how war revealed the exemplary “Russianness” of Prince Petr Bagration, and how the very idea of Russianness changed thanks to this outstanding Georgian aristocrat. Leslie Sargent turns to a story that is in many ways parallel to the paradigmatic case of Odessa, in an article analyzing the causes of fierce interethnic clashes of Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Baku and the surrounding region in 1905–1906. This is the story of the simultaneous mass-scale mobilization of ethnicity and efforts by leaders of ethnoconfessional neighboring groups to curb and prevent the escalation of violence. Julia Ulyannikova writes about the evacuation of the infamous Sakhalin Penal Colony during the Russo-Japanese war: the seemingly self-evident antagonism of Russians and Japanese is relativized in the context of the complex projections and attitudes of Russian and Japanese authorities to different categories of Sakhalin colonists.

The following two articles deal with the period of World War I that seems to be attracting more and more historians who study the collapse of multinational empires and the dusk of colonial empires. The article by Andriy Zayarnyuk is based on the materials of a collection of letters written by Ukrainian soldiers during World War I to their home village in Eastern Galicia under the Habsburg rule. Soldiers from this village express their sense of solidarity, belonging, and patriotism in a language void of ethnonationalism. This is yet another proof that the Ukrainian national movement was not historically confined to the exclusivist model of nationalism that came to dominate the scene in the region just under a quarter century later, and which is analyzed by John-Paul Himka.

Oksana Nagornaya offers a comparative study of the treatment of POWs and different policies toward prisoners in three belligerent continental empires: Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Germany. The war had different effects on different imperial societies and various aspects of life in these societies. War strengthened the bonds of comradeship and solidarity in the same way that it produced new dividing lines and intensified old conflicts. The differences among the imperial societies analyzed by Nagornaya undermine the widespread belief of historians in the existence of a “typical imperial response” to the challenges of total war.

Marina Vitukhnovskaia-Kauppala raises the topic of the effects of civil war in Russia upon the strengthening of national solidarity and regional patriotism among Karelians living along the Russo-Finnish border. Paradoxically, the radical internationalism of the Bolshevik regime was used by Karelian national activists to consolidate Karelians facing the threat of double assimilation: from Finns and from Russians.

Finally, Oleg Budnitskii in an article about the survival of Russian Jews in Germany during the 1930s draws readers’ attention to the remarkable inertia of “neighborship,” and the relatively slow pace of the escalation of enmity: even the Nazis’ rise to power was not immediately perceived by Jewish emigrants as a deadly menace. On the other hand, even in the late 1930s, Nazis were not thoroughly persistent in their implementation of anti-Jewish policies. The most immediate consequence of the changing political climate in Germany was the homogenization of self-perception by Russian Jewish emigrants, whose identity had always been multifaceted and defined circumstantially by a variety of different factors. More and more obviously they were becoming just “Jews,” both in the context of Jewish politics and in the view of their regular German neighbors and the Nazi authorities.

Fulfilling the journal’s longtime project of surveying the art of history-writing of empire and nation, the “ABC” section features an article by Sergei Rumiantsev studying the politics of the representation of “historical territories” in school history textbooks published in the countries of the South Caucasus. The article elucidates how political and military conflicts in the region (for example, between Armenia and Azerbaijan) are wrapped in the rhetoric of conflicting neighbors and framed by the imagery of “blood and soil.” In his analysis of textbooks, Rumiantsev traces how popular stereotypes about hostile neighbors becoming enemies find their way into the historical canon and historical memory of society, eventually legitimizing politicians’ decision making.

The problem of mapping out “friends” and “enemies” in the Southern Caucasus is further developed in the “Archive” section, where we publish an interview with the prominent Georgian dissident and politician, Levan Berdzenishvili. In the interview, he recalls the state of the dissident movement in Georgia in the 1970s and 1980s, and tells the story of his own path from Georgian nationalism to liberalism. Reflecting upon the experience of the Soviet dissident movement, Berdzenishvili sketches a collective portrait of the different people he met in the camp for political prisoners in Mordovia. The experience of “Soviet internationalism” left its mark on that generation of dissidents. In Berdzenishvili’s view, it is this experience that sets them apart from the next generation that became in charge of creating new independent post-Soviet states. According to our interlocutor, it is disregard for the experience of Soviet dissidents, coupled with broad exploitation of national myths – imperial and anti-imperial – that explains the Russo-Georgian war of August 2008.

Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science” in this issue has been reserved for the forum dedicated to the Russian Census of 2010. Scholars from Kazan, Moscow, and France discuss the politics of census taking, differences and similarities between the censuses of 2002 and 2010, and the public reaction to them, as well as the attitudes of national elites to the census. In contrast to 2002, when an international network of experts provided comprehensive monitoring of all stages of the census taking in different regions of Russia (cf. the broad discussion of this project in AI 4/2002), in 2010 such an initiative was not supported by Russian authorities. Therefore, observations by individual scholars become particularly important. As in 2002, in 2010 the response to the census by national activists and the general public in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan became central to the discussion, just as the dialogue of regional activists with the discourse of experts from leading Russian research institutes. Despite the seemingly calm political background of the 2010 census, forum participants uncover its role as a factor of conflicting popular mobilization. The census is discussed as one of the few remaining legitimate public venues to debate radical national projects and criticize the politics of the federal center, which is accused of intentional division and demobilization of nationalities. The editors of AI express their gratitude to Sergei Sokolovskiy, an expert who participated in elaborating the nomenclature of nationalities and languages for the 2002 and 2010 censuses, and a subtle analyst of contemporary processes in population politics, for his willingness to serve as guest editor for the forum.

In the “Newest Mythologies” section, we publish an article by Catriona Kelly, “‘The Hermitage and My Own Front Door’: Local Identities in St. Petersburg.” She brings us back to square one of the process of constructing community out of the continuum of immediate physical neighborship. After the demise of grand narratives that structured the lives of citizens of St. Petersburg (“the imperial capital”) and Leningrad (“the cradle of the revolution”), the slow and occasionally painful process of reinventing new links of solidarity within the limits of the city began. This process relies on the rediscovery of belonging to the ideologically unmarked (or not explicitly marked) most immediate social environment.

Taken together, contributions to this issue of Ab Imperio provide a rich historical context for an inquiry regarding the extent to which the “strategic relativism” of the imperial situation (the impossibility of unquestionable belonging to only one particular social hierarchy or group) is a stabilizing factor, or it is more a source of conflicts. By excluding the figure of “stranger” from the formula of the community of neighbors, we have to admit that any confrontation within the imperial society results from the mobilization of already existing differences. Likewise, for an international conflict (with the exception of defense from foreign aggression), it is necessary first to revitalize and make dominant one of the already existing principles of collective identification. In other words, a pogromist should forget that, like himself, his neighbor is a drinking, middle-aged male, that they served in the same branch of the service, voted for the same candidate in municipal elections, are fans of the same football team, their children attend the same school, and so on – and concentrate instead on the single (ethnic) difference. In the context of war with Japan or Austria-Hungary, it is necessary to ignore all of the regional, economic, and cultural interests and ties and attempt to think in totalizing categories of “Slavdom” or the “yellow peril” – at least until the moment the war gains a logic of its own.

Thus, the persistent reinforcement of parallel principles of groupness can minimize internal and external conflicts in the imperial situation (it does not matter whether it is an “empire” or a “nation-state”). Instead of attempts to cram the existing differences into a single totalizing discourse – of political citizenship, confession, culture, or territory – it may be more productive to stimulate parallel and only partially overlapping systems of identification. The impossibility of imagining such a heterogeneous space as a single community of look-alike “neighbors” makes projects of a uniform nation unrealistic and inherently conflicting. As the materials published in this issue of AI demonstrate, this relativization of large homogeneous groups is not politically neutral: when it is applied selectively by agents of the state, it can be characterized as an “imperial” policy aimed at the artificial splitting of nondominant nationalities (cf. the forum on the 2010 Census). On the other hand, this social “pluralization” has a side-effect of public demobilization, because it makes it all but impossible to exercise broad solidarity and mobilization based on popular collective bodies, such as nation, class, or gender, that are typical of modern politics. And yet, it seems that the only alternative to the reduction of multilayered social diversity to binary models fraught with confrontation can be found in the “confederation” of heterogeneous communities of solidarity: regional, professional, cultural, confessional, sportive associations, among others. On this continuum alliances of interests and corporations are quite possible, but it is very difficult to impose unanimity. A certain background level of violence is inevitable, but it is highly problematic to channel it into a single and therefore large-scale interethnic conflict. Of course, lest some ominous “stranger” should intervene…

Editors of Ab Imperio:
I. Gerasimov
S. Glebov
A. Kaplunovski
M. Mogilner
A. Semyonov

Table of contents

4/2010 War and Imperial Society: Dynamics of “Friendship” and “Hostility”

I. Methodology and Theory

From the Editors (R&E)

Caroline Humphrey Odessa: Pogroms in a Cosmopolitan City (E)

John-Paul Himka The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army: Unwelcome Elements of an Identity Project (E)

John-Paul Himka The Importance of the Situational Element in East Central European Fascism (E)

II. History

Sean Pollock “As One Russian to Another”: Prince Petr Ivanovich Bagration’s Assimilation of Russian Ways (E)

Leslie Sargent The “Armeno-Tatar War” in the South Caucasus, 1905–1906: Multiple Causes, Interpreted Meanings (E)

Julia Ulyannikova Alien Among Aliens, Alien Among Friends: The Russo-Japanese War and the Evacuation of the Sakhalin Penal Colony in the Context of Imperial Policies in the Far East (R)

Andriy Zayarnyuk “The War Is as Usual”: World War I Letters to a Galician Village (E)

Oksana Nagornaya “The Kaiser’s Guests” and “Political Decoration”: Men and Officers of Multinational Empires in the POW Camps of World War I (R)

Marina Vitukhnovskaia-Kauppala “Karelia for Karelians!” Civil War as a Catalyst of National Consciousness (R)

Oleg Budnitskii Russian Jews in Nazi Germany (1933–1941) (R)

III. Archive

Interview with Levan Berdzenishvili “…Although Such People Existed, It Was Not They Who Built New National States” (R)

IV. Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science

Forum AI
The Russian Census of 2010

Jean Radvanyi The Russian Census of 2010: Notes and First Impressions (E)

Ekaterina Khodzhaeva The Census as a Problem: Analysis of the General Russian Press and Tatarstan’s Russian-Language Press, 2002 and 2010 (R)

Dilyara Suleymanova The Census as a Topic in the Tatar-Language Press (R)

Ilshat Nasyrov Remarks of an Outside Observer (R)

Sergei Sokolovskiy The Second Russian Census: Categorizations of Population and Identity Politics (R)

V. ABC: Empire & Nationalism Studies

Sergei Rumiantsev Nationalism and the Construction of Maps of “Historical Territories”: Teaching National Histories in the Countries of the Southern Caucasus (R)

VI. Newest Mythologies

Catriona Kelly “The Hermitage and My Own Front Door”: Local Identities in St. Petersburg (E)

VII. Book Reviews

1. Historiography

Boris Kolonitskii, William Rosenberg In Memory of Leopold Haimson (1927–2010) (R)

David McDonald Leopold Haimson: His Historical Vision and Historiographical Legacy (E)

2. Reviews

Eugene M. Avrutin, Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2010). 216 pp. Bibliography, Index. ISBN: 978-0-8014-4862-1.
Marina Mogilner (R)

Stefan Berger (Ed.), Writing the Nation: A Global Perspective (Hound¬mills and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). 243 pp. Selected Bibliography, Index. ISBN: 978-0-230-00802-1.
Alexander Pershái (R)

L. Ia. Ginzburg. Prokhodiashchie kharaktery: Proza voennykh let. Zapiski blokadnogo cheloveka / Sost., podgot. teksta, primech. i sta’i A. Zorina, E. Van Baskirk. Moskva: “Novoe izdatel’stvo”, 2011. 600 s. ISBN: 978-5-98379-143-5.
Polina Barskova (E)

A. V. Portnov. Uprazhneniia s istoriei po-ukrainski. Moskva: OGI; Polit.ru; Memorial, 2010. 224 s., ill. Ukazatel’ imen. ISBN: 978-5-94282-604-8.
Ilya Gerasimov (R)

Brian J. Boeck, Imperial Boundaries: Cossack Communities and Empire-Building in the Age of Peter the Great (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). 270 pp., ills., maps. Index. ISBN: 978-052- 151-463-7.
Vladyslav Yatsenko (R)

Alison K. Smith, Recipes for Russia: Food and Nationhood under the Tsars (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, Illinois, 2008). 259 pp. Selected Bibliography, Index. ISBN: 978-0-87580-381-4.
Svetlana Konstantinova (R)

Paul R. Gregory, Terror by Quota: State Security from Lenin to Stalin. An Archival Study (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009). viii+346 pp. ISBN: 978-0-300-13425-4.
Viacheslav Men’kovskii (R)

O. A. Krasniak. Stanovlenie iranskoi reguliarnoi armii v 1879–1921 gg. (Po materialam arkhivov russkoi voennoi missii). Moskva: Izdatel’stvo LKI, 2007. 160 s. ISBN: 978-5-382-00116-6.
Oleg Gokov (R)

Vasyl Kuchabsky, Western Ukraine in Conflict with Poland and Bolshevism, 1918–1923, Transl. from the German by Gus Fagan (Edmonton, Toronto: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 2009). 361 pp. Bibliography, Maps, Index. ISBN: 978-1-894865-13-5.
Hennadii Korolev (R)

Charles Kurzman, Democracy Denied, 1905–1915: Intellectuals and the Fate of Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008). 396 pp. Bibliographу, Notes, Index. ISBN: 0-674-030-923.
Alexander Reznik (R)

Alex Danilovich, Russian-Belarusian Integration: Playing Games Behind the Kremlin Walls (Basingstoke: Ashgate, 2006). 234 pp. ISBN: 978-075-464-630-3.
Dmitry Shlapentokh (E)

John F. Haldon (Ed.), Byzantine Warfare (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2007). xxvii+582 pp. ISBN: 978-0-7546-2484-4 (hardcover edition).
Nikita Khrapunov (R)

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