Theory

Visser O. Western agricultural investors in Russia and Ukraine: From fascination with soil to disappointment with climate // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №4. P. 21-49.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-4-21-49

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This article looks at how imaginaries of land and climate play a role in farmland investment discourses and practices. Foreign farmland investors in the fertile black earth region of Russia and Ukraine have ‘celebrated’ soil fertility while largely ignoring climatic factors. The article shows a centuries-long history of outsiders coming to the region lured by the fertile soils, while grossly underestimating climate which has had disastrous implications for farm viability and the environment. Comparisons with historical and contemporary literature on other regions (e.g. the US prairies and North Africa) suggest that the underestimation of climatic risks by newcomers is remarkably prevalent in resource frontiers.

Land imaginaries, ignorance, soil, farmland investment, climatе.

Visser Oane, Senior Researcher, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, of Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherland The Hague, Kortenaerkade 12, 2518 AX.
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Mikhalenko N. V. Utopian idea in the Russian literature of the 1920s–1930s (The Journey of My Brother Alexei to the Land of Peasant Utopia by A. V. Chayanov in the context of the era) // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №4. P. 6-20.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-4-6-20

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Alexander Chayanov’s book The Journey of My Brother Alexei to the Land of Peasant Utopia is deeply rooted in the late 19th—early 20th century’s literary and philosophical ideas. His utopia was influenced not only by the futuristic projects of William Morris, Thomas Moore, Edward Bellamy and other authors mentioned in the book, but also by the ideas interpreted in the works of Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vladimir Kirillov, Evgeny Zamyatin, Andrei Platonov, and others. The picture of the peasant paradise presented by Chayanov’s economic ideas is similar to the dreams of the neo-peasant poets about an ‘izba paradise’ (izba—a traditional Russian farmstead), preservation of traditional values and folk culture. Technological achievements are described in the works of Mayakovsky and Zamyatin, and Chayanov’s utopia adds the ability to control meteorological processes. The writers’ reflections on the future man were influenced by their interpretation of future theurgic ambitions and their possible results (artificial selection, strict regulation of many spheres of life, compulsory realization of gifts and talents, separation or even extermination of dissenters, etc.). The futurologist ideas about the development of society, science, art and culture, implemented in different art forms, were tested to check the man’s ability to identify the limits of his power over his own nature while not attempting to suppress or change according to the challenges of technology.

Utopia, utopian idea in the Russian literature of the 1920s–1930s, Alexander Chayanov, Alexander Bogdanov, Sergey Esenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Andrei Platonov, Evgeny Zamyatin.

Mikhalenko Natalia V., PhD (Philology), Senior Researcher, А. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya St. 25а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.
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Shteinberg I.E. The ‘long table’ method at the field stage of the research // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №3. P. 19-41.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-3-19-41

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The article presents excerpts from the author’s monograph in print The ‘Long Table’ Method in the Field Qualitative Sociological Research. The method was developed in 1990–1995, during the long-term interdisciplinary research of the Russian countryside under the guidance of Professor Teodor Shanin. One of the directions of its further development was the Qualitative Researcher School which was created about twenty years ago. The monograph describes the methodology, techniques and cases of organizing working groups of researchers and of preparing them for conducting the field qualitative research of the full cycle—from concept to publication. The excerpts of the book presented in the article focus on such basic issues of the field sociological research based on the in-depth interview as tandem interview and long table method, functions of the group field diary, timing of the in-depth interview, crisis of understanding and theoretical framework of research. In addition to the specific methodological approaches and numerous examples from the research practice, the article presents parts of transcripts from the moderator and participants work with the ‘long table’ method in the Qualitative Researcher School in order to give the reader an idea of the research culture as a number of basic principles and values of the scientific search for truth, and of the atmosphere of mutual intellectual and emotional support within the research project as developed by Teodor Shanin.

Qualitative methods, ‘long table’ method, school of the qualitative researcher, tandem interview, in-depth interview timing, group field diary, ‘crisis of understanding’, stages of the psychological state of researcher.

Shteinberg Ilya E., PhD (Philosophy), Associate Professor, Moscow State PsychologicalPedagogical University; Head of the Qualitative Researcher School, 127051 Moscow, Sretenka St., 29.
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Tkachenko A.A., Smirnova A.A., Smirnov I.P. A geographical classification of rural areas in the Tver Region // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №3. P. 6-18.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-3-6-18

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The authors consider the term ‘rural areas’ and believe that such territories should not be defined as administrative-territorial units. The article presents another interpretation of ‘rural areas’ on the example of classification developed for the Tver Region. This classification is based on three features: the type of territory, its functions, and the development of rural settlements network; recreational potential can be an additional criterion. The combination of these features allowed the authors to identify 11 types of rural areas and to describe the distribution of territories and rural population of the Tver Region by typological groups.

Rural area, rural district, classification, type, function, rural settlement, recreational potential.

Tkachenko Alexander A., DSc (Geography), Professor, Faculty of Geography and Geoecology, Tver State University. 170021 Tver, P. Proshina St., 3, bldg. 2.
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Smirnova Alexandra A., PhD (Geography), Associate Professor, Faculty of Geography and Geoecology, Tver State University. 170021 Tver, P. Proshina St., 3, bldg. 2.
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Smirnov Ilya P., PhD (Geography), Associate Professor, Faculty of Geography and Geoecology, Tver State University. 170021 Tver, P. Proshina St., 3, bldg. 2.
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Zverev V.V. To the anniversary of the half-forgotten book (V.P. Vorontsov’s Peasant Community) // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №2. P. 6-44.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-2-6-44

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The article considers the main ideas of the outstanding Russian economist and publicist V.P. Vorontsov as represented in his work Peasant Community published in 1892. This book provides a detailed examination of the zemstvo statistical data in order to refute the theory of the rudimentary nature of the peasant community. To prove his ideas, Vorontsov used the objectivist approach in the selection and presentation of the data. He showed that in the post-reform era, the peasant community not only kept its functions of protecting the rural world but also developed new means for implementing the principles of equality and justice and for adapting peasants to the market economy. The peasant community resisted the commodity-money relations, but this resistance was not always effective. There was a growing individualistic trend which threatened to destroy the community organization. Vorontsov focused on the distribution-production functions of the peasant community rather than on its financial-tax, law-making, judicial functions and methods of social protection, and did not consider its representative, police, cultural-educational, religious functions or the contradictions between the communal nature of land relations and the individual economic practices of the peasantry. Vorontsov’s book is a real encyclopedia of the activities and worldview of the Russian peasantry in the second half of the 19th century.

V.P. Vorontsov, peasant community, land redistribution, individualism of the peasantry, communal and household land tenure, agriculture.

Zverev Vasily V., DSc (History), Senior Researcher, Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 117292, Moscow, Dmitry Ulyanov St., 19.
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Rodoman B. Russian cultural landscape: Theoretical and practical implications of the concept // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №1. P. 13-25.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-1-13-25

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The author argues that the precise final definitions (recognized and universal) are often less important for scientists than the key features of the studied phenomena. Therefore, the author suggests to combine different concepts in order to get a working and temporary definition of the cultural landscape. The article presents this term as non-evaluative, mainly typological, non-taxonomic and ‘real’, which allows to consider its borders with the natural landscape as mobile, conventional and relative due to the fact that both landscapes are affected by human activities. The author describes factors and trends in the development of the cultural landscape, and regionalization as a tool to study and preserve it. The Russian cultural landscape is primarily determined by the interaction of the state with nature due to the obvious shortage of self-organized local communities. The author identifies endogenous (internal) and exogenous (external) factors in the (self)-development of the cultural landscape, which can be either stimulating or hindering. As the main features of the Russian cultural landscape the author considers its historically developed rhythm and ability to self-recover, which differ by country and region. Centuries of the military-colonial despotism and unprecedented centralization of the supreme power have turned the Russian space into a totalitarian landscape with the hypertrophied radial connections and the suppressed peripheral connections, which is embodied in the administrative-territorial division and determined the extraordinary social-economic, geographical, ecological and territorial polarization. The Russian landscape has a very specific feature – the so-called ‘inner periphery’, or hinterland (relative and ubiquitous): these are territories located closer to the country’s cores than to its outskirts but with all negative features of the outskirts. This inner periphery plays an important role in the preservation and development of the natural landscape as a potential basis of the territorial ecological framework, but to ensure such a role we need a comprehensive cultural-historical regionalization.

 Landscape, cultural landscape, administrative-territorial division, etatization of landscape, anisotropic landscape, ecological potential of administrative borders, social-economic polarization, hinterland, inner periphery, regionalization, cultural-historical areas.

Rodoman Boris B., DSc (Geography).
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Chayanov A.V. What will our national economy be like after the war? (Article of A.V. Chayanov) // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2021. V.6. №1. P. 6-12.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2021-6-1-6-12

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This article by A.V. Chayanov was published in the edition of the Moscow Union of Consumer Societies “Cooperative Rural Calendar for 1918” (Moscow, 1917, pp. 42–44). The article is of interest mainly as a short, impressive, journalistic, rapid forecast of the possible evolutionary directions of the Russian economy and society in the short-term and mid-term national-economic perspective. This is a polemical political-economic article due to Chayanov’s reflections on the interpretation of such concepts as ‘state socialism’ and ‘socialism’ in general, on the meaning of ‘public reason’ in the ongoing and future reforms, and also due to Chayanov’s forecasts of the Russian economic development as determined by such multidirectional economic, political and social factors as the state debt that had multiplied during the war, the weakening impact of inflation on the economy, and the after-war tasks of transferring the economy to a peaceful track. In his positive forecasts, Chayanov put special hopes on the awakening social and productive forces of the Russian peasantry. Chayanov believed that the growth of culture, labor productivity and cooperation among the peasantry would allow to find a way out of the impasse of the 1917 economic devastation. Although, as the later historical events showed, Chayanov’s belief in ‘public reason’ and the corresponding humanistic socialist prospects for Russia did not come true, he systematically identified the key dominants of both revolutionary and evolutionary transformations of the huge peasant country under the great social-political upheavals of the 20th century. 

 Agrarian reform, A.V. Chayanov, state socialism, cooperation, peasantry, public reason, World War I, revolution.

Chayanov Alexander V.
Afanasenkov Vladislav O., Researcher, Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences; Junior Researcher, Research Laboratory of Economic and Social History, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Vernadskogo Prosp., 82, Moscow, 119571, Russia.
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Round table “In memory of Teodor Shanin” // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №4. P. 39-77.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-4-39-77

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On the final day of the Chayanov International Conference (October 22–23, 2020), the round table was held in memory of Teodor Shanin, a remarkable agrarian scientist and researcher of A.V. Chayanov’s legacy. The round table was dedicated to both the memory of Professor Shanin who passed away on February 4, 2020, and to his 90th birthday on October 29, 2020. More than 60 scientists and students from different regions of Russia and the world watched presentations of friends, colleagues, and students of Shanin at the round table held online due to the pandemic. The round table was opened by Professor Shulamit Ramon, the widow of Teodor Shanin, who spoke about the worldview dominants of his life and work, his intellectual connection with Russia. The British colleagues of Teodor Shanin—Professors Henry Bernstein, Mark Harrison and Judith Pallot—spoke about directions of the main academic research and discussions which started in the 1970s on social differentiation of the peasantry and referred to the ideological legacy of Lenin and Chayanov; Teodor Shanin made a huge contribution to these debates.
The French scholar Aleksey Berelovich focused on the features of Shanin as a political scientist and a brilliant analyst of the political processes of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. Russian colleagues of Teodor Shanin—geographer A.I. Alekseev, historian V.V. Kondrashin, sociologists V.G. Vinogradsky, O.P. Fadeeva, I.E. Shteinberg, A.M. Nikulin, D.M. Rogozin, and A.A. Artamonov—shared their personal memories of Shanin and provided a comprehensive description of his interdisciplinary methodology of agricultural research. Agrarian scientists from South Africa—Boaventura Monjane and Ruth Hall, and India—Sima Purushotaman—emphasized the importance of Shanin’s legacy for the study of the peasant development in the regions of Africa and Asia. Most presentations stressed and analyzed the intellectual connection of Professor Shanin with the Russian agrarian research of Marxists, populists, and the Chayanov school. 

Shanin, peasantry, agrarian sociology, social differentiation, Russia, Marxism, populism, Chayanov 
Alekseev Alexander I., DSc (Geography), Professor, Faculty of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University. 119991, Moscow, Lenin Hills, 1.
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Artamonov Alexander A., Leading Specialist, Center for Agrarian Studies of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. 82, Prosp. Vernadskogo, Moscow, Russian Federation, 119571.
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Berelowitch Alexis, University Paris—Sorbonne (Paris IV). France, Paris-5, Rue VictorCousin, 1.
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Bernstein Henry, Emeritus Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). London WC1H 0XG, United Kingdom.
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Fadeeva Olga P., PhD (Sociology), Leading Researcher, Institute of Economics and Organization of Industrial Production, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Prosp. Lavrentieva, 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   
Hall Ruth, Professor University of the Western Cape, X17, Bellville, 7535.
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Harrison Mark, Emeritus Professor, Department of Economics, University of Warwick. Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom.
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Kondrashin Viktor V., DSc (History), Professor, Head of Center for Economic History, Institute of Russian History Russian Academy of Science. 117292, Moscow, D. Ul’yanova St., 19.
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Monjane Boaventura, Post-Doc, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
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Nikulin Alexander M., Head of the Chayanov Research Center, Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp, 82.
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Pallot Judith, Emeritus Professor, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. Oxford OX1 3QY, United Kingdom.
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Purushothaman Seema, Professor, Azim Premji University Survey. 66, Burugunte village, Bikkanahalli main road, Sarjapura, 562125 Bengaluru.
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Ramon Shulamit, Professor, School of Health and Social Work, University of Hertfordshire. Hatfield AL10 9AB, United Kingdom.
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Rogozin Dmitry M., Senior Researcher, Institute of Social Analysis and Forecasting, Russian Presidential Academy for National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), 119034, Moscow, Prechistenskaya Nab., 11 bld.1.
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Shteinberg Ilya E., PhD (Philosophy), Associate Professor, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education. Sretenka St., 29, Moscow, 127051, Russia.
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Vinogradsky Valery G., DSc (Philosophy), Senior Researcher, Center for Agrarian Studies, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. 119571, Moscow, Vernadskogo Prosp., 82.
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Bernstein H. Shanin, Chayanov and peasant studies of Russia and beyond // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №4. P. 32-38.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-4-32-38

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This text is based on the presentation at the roundtable in memory of Teodor Shanin (Moscow, 23 October 2020) and on the recent author’s paper in press, which surveys Shanin’s work of the 1970s and 1980s. The author provides a guide to tracing Shanin’s main themes and issues. First, the family farm is usually if not invariably featured first in Shanin’s characterizations of peasants as a general or generic type. Second, Shanin sought explanations of peasant household reproduction in his model of ‘multidirectional and cyclical mobility’ against the ‘biological determinism’ linked to the organization-production school and against the ‘economic determinism’ of Marxists. Third, Shanin emphasized “life of a small community within which most of the peasant needs of social living and social reproduction can be met”, but he aimed to avoid a romantic view of the mir. Fourth, Shanin believed that “the definitions of peasantry, which view it as representing an aspect of the past surviving in the modern world, seem, on the whole, valid”, and that rural society can be understood in terms of labour and capital flows which are broader than agriculture. Fifth, Shanin wrote that the triple origins of Marx’s analytical thought suggested by Engels—German philosophy, French socialism and British political economy—should be supplemented by the Russian revolutionary populism. Sixth, Shanin argued that the concept of ‘peasant mode of production’ had too many heuristic limitations to be sustained. Finally, Shanin’s vision of an alternative to both capitalist development and the projects of Soviet style was firmly rooted in the legacy of Chayanov.

Shanin, Chayanov, peasant economy, organization-production school, populist, peasantry, peasant mode of production

Bernstein Henry, Professor Emeritus, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK; Adjunct Professor, School of Humanities and Development Studies, China Agricultural University, Beijing.
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Worobec С.D. The influences of A.V. Chayanov and Teodor Shanin on the English-language historiography of peasants in the Russian Empire // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2020. V.5. №4. P. 8-31.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2020-5-4-8-31

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In the 1980s, various influences were at play in producing a groundswell of interest in the Russian Empire’s peasantries, not least of which were the works of A.V. Chayanov and Teodor Shanin. The interdisciplinary social history movement, which eschewed traditional political history and its focus on elites, arose in the 1960s. The initial interest in biographies of Russian revolutionary men and women and histories of the nascent Russian working class and labor movement in order to explain the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 were suddenly supplemented and eventually displaced by an avid interest in peasants. The article examines the conclusions that the first-wave of scholarship on the peasantries of the Russian Empire produced. It shows how the ideas of Chayanov and Shanin remained dominant but were challenged by archival sources, histories on the micro- and regional levels, and attention to household tensions, gender issues, craft production and non-agricultural trades, growing literacy, as well as out-migration and return migration. By the mid-1990s, it became impossible to talk about a generalized autarkic, insular, cohesive as well as egalitarian Russian peasant society with traditional mores and customs that rebelled spontaneously because of its immiseration. The post-structural turn had furthermore begun to chip away at the veracity of statistics produced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and to question depictions of peasants which tended to emphasize their dark, primitive, and seemingly backward nature. Although this turn almost dried up interest in Russian peasant studies, a steady stream of historical works began to appear again in the first decade of the twenty-first century. We now have a firmer grasp of an economically and socially differentiated peasantry, the contours of the normal political accommodation that peasants made with the state (instead of always resisting it), and peasants’ utilization of the legal system to challenge their neighbors and family members. Furthermore, we know how a moral economy operated between the state and its peasant taxpayers and how and why zemstvo statistics produced Chayanov’s brilliant model of the dominant middling peasant household. At the same time, the agency with which Chayanov and Shanin infused the peasants has taken center stage in historical analyses.

Chayanov, Shanin, peasantry, Russian empire, Russian peasant society, peasant household, peasant commune, traditional political history, post-structural turn, moral economy

Worobec Christine D., Distinguished Research Professor Emerita, Northern Illinois University. 1425 W. Lincoln Hwy., DeKalb, IL 60115-2828.
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