Krasilnikov S. A. Repressive de-peasantization in the USSR as a research question: Approaches and search for new solutions // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2024. V.9. №1. P. 6-22.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2024-9-1-6-22


When considering the peasant component of special settlements in Stalin’s epoch, the author proposes to combine the repressive paradigm with the socially transformative one, which leads to the idea of repressive de-peasantization. This term focuses on the peasantry and peasant families deportation to special settlements as a state policy based on coercion, violence and discipline through punishment, which resulted in the loss of the most basic values (including religious ones) by the peasantry, the deformation of labor incentives and ethos, the transformation of family models and intergenerational ties. These issues are considered in the article through their study since the late 1980s (historiographical approach). Thus, the conceptual “breakthrough” (N. A. Ivnitsky, V.Ya. Shashkov, V.N. Zemskov) limited this analysis to the records of the central authorities, and the dictate of such sources affected the historical discourse, determining the dominance of quantitative characteristics (numbers, dislocations, spheres of labor application, living conditions, etc.) and the ignorance of the implicit qualitative aspects of the exiles’ life (marginality, adaptability, excessiveness, everyday activities). Having noted the presence of terminological ‘relics’ in contemporary historical works (“raskulachivanie”, or de-kulakization, “legal status”, etc.), the author emphasizes the need to consider such qualitative concepts as “regulation of special settlements”, “hierarchy of exiles”, “intergenerational ties and conflicts”, and “the price of repression”. As the basis of de-peasantization, the social-professional mobility of the exiled peasantry, including to other strata (workers, employees), was generally leveled by its regime status.


Forced de-peasantization, dynamics of research, peasant family, exile, special settlement regime, mobility, marginalization.

About the author

Krasilnikov Sergey A., DSc (History), Chief Researcher, Institute of History, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Nikolaeva St., 8, Novosibirsk, 630090.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The article was submitted on 06.12.2023.


Scott J.C. State evasion and state prevention: Geographical location, agriculture, and social structure // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2017. V.2. №4. P. 6-30.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2017-2-4-6-30


The comparative study of the zones of refuge conducted by James Scott shows that despite their geographical, cultural, and temporal dispersion, they share a few common, diagnostic characteristics. If they were of any historical depth, most shatter zones to which various groups have repaired over time display something of the ethnic and linguistic complexity and fluidity. Aside from being located in remote marginal areas that are difficult of access, such peoples are also likely to have developed subsistence routines that maximize dispersion, mobility, and resistance to appropriation. Their social structure as well is likely to favor dispersion, fission, and reformulation and to present to the outside world a kind of formlessness that offers no obvious institutional point of entry for would-be projects of unified rule. Finally, many groups in extrastate space appear to have strong, even fierce, traditions of egalitarianism and autonomy both at the village and familial level that represent an effective barrier to tyranny and permanent hierarchy. Geographical remoteness, mobility, choice of crops and cultivation techniques, and, frequently, a “no handles” acephalous social structure, are, to be sure, measures of state evasion. But it is crucial to understand that what is being evaded is not a relationship per se with the state but an evasion of subject status. What hill peoples on the periphery of states have been evading is the hard power of the fiscal state, its capacity to extract direct taxes and labor from a subject population. They have, however, actually sought relationships with valley states that are compatible with a large degree of political autonomy. In particular, a tremendous amount of political conflict has been devoted to the jockeying for advantage as the favored trading partner of one lowland emporium or another. Hills and valleys were complementary as agro-ecological niches. This meant in effect that adjacent valley states typically competed with one another to acquire hill products and populations.


State evasion, state prevention, geographical location, mobility, agricultural crops, egalitarian social structure, agro-ecological niches, political autonomy.

About the author

Scott James C., Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at Yale University and Co-Director of Yale Program in Agrarian Studies; Yale University, Box 208209, New Haven, USA, CT 06520-8206.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


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