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Review of Aaron B Retish. Russia’s Peasants in Revolution and Civil War. Citizenship, Identity, and the Creation of the Soviet State, 1914–1922

Review of Aaron B Retish. Russia’s Peasants in Revolution and Civil War. Citizenship, Identity, and the Creation of the Soviet State, 1914–1922
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  Aaron B. Retish,  Russia’s Peasants in Revolution and Civil War: Citizenship,  Identity, and the Creation of the Soviet State, 1914-19 . Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008. ISBN: !8"0"#2$"8%8"&.'his ambitio(s boo) *rovides a ne+ yn-h*in or st(dies o the revo(tionary *eriod and o R(ssia/s r(ra *o*(ation. Its )ey -ontrib(tions to the ied are irsty, a re"-on-e*t(aiation o the *robem o *easant nationa identity and the  *easantry1s reationshi* to the state se-ondy, a reassessment o the revo(tionary transormation to in-(de the +hoe *eriod $$&"$22 thirdy, e3*anding the geogra*hi- s-o*e o st(dy o revo(tionary *ro-esses and inay, an integration o the history o *easant revo(tion in R(ssian into the -onte3ts o *easant st(dies ese+here. Retish/s +or) dra+s on an im*ressive so(r-e base, dra+ing on 4irov/s regiona ar-hives aongside -entra ar-hives in R(ssia and the States, ne+s*a*ers and  *eriodi-as, and the most re-ent iterat(re in R(ssian and 5ngish 6is enth(siasm to engage +ith inter"dis-i*inary and -om*arative a**roa-hes is notabe, and sets him a*art rom the oten myo*i- a**roa-h o other s*e-iaists in the ied. 6is -ose reading o o-a so(r-es enabes him to *ersonaise, -om*i-ate and e3*ain day to day *easant reationshi*s and *oiti-s.'he *rovin-e o 7iat)a *rovides the geogra*hi- o-(s or this st(dy. Retish/s introd(-tion does a great ob o giving the reader a sense o the *arti-(arities o 7iat)a and its *eo*e. A n(mber o a-tors disting(ished 7iat)a rom the more -ommony st(died Ba-) 5arth region. Ninety *er-ent o the *easants in 7iat)a had  been eman-i*ated as state *easants in $8%%, +hi-h meant that they had never abo(redor a andord, (iing their obigations in -ash or +ith goods. 'heir neighbo(rs in the Ba-) 5arth regions, most o +hom had been the *ro*erty o *rivate ando+ners  beore eman-i*ation, s(ered rom and h(nger, and dee* resentments estered  be-a(se the *rivate andords tended to retain the best and or themseves ater eman-i*ation. 7iat)a/s *easants did not as a +hoe s(er rom the and h(nger that -hara-terised the Ba-) 5arth regions, and did not have the andord ig(re on +hi-h to -on-entrate resentment. 7iat)a/s *easants +ere o(t+ard bo(nd and o(t+ard oo)ing even beore the 9irst ord ar, as more than ninety *er-ent o ho(sehods inthe *rovin-e reied on non"and based *easant handi-rats and o(t"migrant abo(r to s(**ement their in-omes. 'hese regiona s*e-ii-ities are a starting *oint or Retish/s )ey arg(ment, that 7iat)a/s *easants e3*erien-ed the revo(tionary *eriod o $$&"$22 as a deveo*ment and intensii-ation o their intera-tion +ith the nationa *oity  and their +iingness to (tiise the state as arbitrators o their daiy ives. 'his is an im*ortant de*art(re rom the drit o earier historiogra*hy on R(ssia/s *easants. 'he boo) is organised -hronoogi-ay, +ith -ha*ters -overing the 9irst ord ar, revo(tion, Soviet *o+er, and the Civi ar. Cha*ter $, on the 9irst ord ar,  *resents a detaied eva(ation o the sometimes -oni-ting res*onses o 7iat)a/s  *easants to the +ar eort. ;i)e <osh(a Sanborn and others, Retish arg(es that the +ar  *rovided a or(m or the deveo*ment o nationaist identities and as*irations or in-(sion in the state *oity. 6e dra+s o(t the -ontradi-tory +ays in +hi-h -(t(ra eites de*i-ted the region/s non"R(ssian *eo*es =Udm(rt, >ari and 'atars?, as +ithin the nationa str(gge b(t o(tside the *arameters o nationa -itiens. Cha*ters 2 and @ ta-)e the t(m(t(o(s events o $$!. Retish arg(es that *easants so(ght to be a-tive -itiens +ithin the Provisiona overnment/s ne+ regime, b(t in-reasingy -ashed +ith r(ra eites over ho+ their *arti-i*ation in the state +as to be ramed. Cha*ter & oo)s at *easants/ res*onse to the Boshevi)s/ and de-ree o $$8, and arg(es that the *easantry so(ght to invove the state in -oni-t reso(tion. Cha*ter # e3*ores the three +ay -oni-t that deveo*ed bet+een Boshevi)s, anti"Boshevi)s and *easants in the eary -ivi +ar *eriod, -rystaising aro(nd the iss(es o miitary -ons-ri*tion and grain *ro-(rement. Cha*ter % des-ribes the state/s attem*ts to entren-h itse in the -o(ntryside, thro(gh the deveo*ment o r(ra instit(tions and aian-es +ith the  *easant *o*(ation. Cha*ter ! indi-ates a degree o s(--ess in these state eorts, sho+ing ho+ *easant ang(age and identity be-ame in-reasingy Soviet/ oo+ing state C(t(ra 5nightenment and *ro*aganda -am*aigns. Cha*ter 8 (nders-ores the devastation o the -ivi +ar *eriod, +ith amine, o*en revot and mass migration, b(t arg(es that the state eorts to aeviate amine *rovided (rther o(ndations or an a-tive reationshi* bet+een 7iat)a/s *easantry and the state. An overar-hing theme o his +or) is *easant agen-y and rationaity. Retish st(dies R(ssia/s r(ra *o*(ation as s(be-ts in their o+n right, rather than the *assive obe-ts as *ortrayed in the more dated historiogra*hy. Retish dra+s o(t *easant -on-e*tions o themseves as -itiens, and s)i(y brings together the *eriods o the 9irst ord ar, revo(tion and -ivi +ar. 7iat)a/s *easants diered rom those o their eo+ *easants in other, more st(died regions o the Ba-) 5arth, -entra region and U)raine, and Retish arg(es -onvin-ingy that 7iat)a/s *easants +ere not -on-erned *rimariy +ith and and reedom/ that is, -ontro o and and -om*ete  a(tonomy in their daiy governan-e. P(tting these od historiogra*hi-a obsessions to one side enabes Retish to sho+ that 7iat)a/s *easants +ere a-tive *arti-i*ants in a =sometimes one sided? diaog(e +ith the state and its agents. Peasants +ere a-tive andrationa agents in their oten dii-(t *oiti-a and *ersona negotiations thro(gh the t(m(t(o(s years o +ar and revo(tion. Atho(gh some so-ia and -(t(ra str(-t(res end(red thro(gh revo(tion and +ar, viage attit(des to+ards the nationa *oity +ere (ndamentay transormed in the *eriod. Retish arg(es that *easants +anted to  *arti-i*ate in State b(iding, and that the yo(ng Soviet state gave them that o**ort(nity. 'hro(gho(t, Retish *a-es 7iat)a/s *easantry in an internationa -onte3t, and dra+s attention to ethni- and gender s*e-ii-ities o e3*erien-e. 7iat)a/s Udm(rt and >ari *o*(ations are sensitivey treated. 'he boo) is -eary and (-idy +ritten, and in-(des a n(mber o i(minating i(strations and tabes. A ma* sho+ing 7iat)a/s *osition +ithin the R(ssian 5m*ire +o(d have he*ed ess s*e-iaist readers -onte3t(aise the s*a-e dis-(ssed. Retish/s  boo) +i be re(ired reading or s(be-t s*e-iaists and (ndergrad(ate reading ists,  b(t +i aso be a va(abe -om*arative *oint or s-hoars o *easant -omm(nities in other -onte3ts. Sarah Bad-o-)  !niversity of "ottin#ha$
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