Nature’s Evil A Cultural History of Natural Resources ALEXANDER ETKIND European University Institute in Florence Translated by Sara Jolly This bold and wide-ranging book views the history of humankind through the prism of natural resources – how we acquire them, use them, value them, trade them, exploit them. History needs a cast of characters and in this story the leading actors are peat and hemp, grain and iron, fur and oil, each with its own tale to tell. The uneven spread of available resources was the prime mover for trade, which in turn led to the accumulation of wealth, the growth of inequality and the proliferation of evil. Different sorts of raw material have different political implications and give rise to different social institutions. When a country switches its reliance from one commodity to another, this often leads to wars and revolutions. But none of these crises go to waste – they all lead to dramatic changes in the relations between matter, labour and the state. Our world is the result of a fragile pact between people and nature. As we stand on the verge of climate catastrophe, nature has joined us in our struggle to distinguish between good and evil. And since we have failed to change the world, now is the moment to understand how it works.
229 x 152mm / 350 pages / UK September 2021 / US October 2021 978-1-5095-4758-6 hb £25.00, $35.00, €30.90 ebook available
Comrade Kerensky The Revolution Against the Monarchy and the Formation of the Cult of ‘the Leader of the People’ (March–June 1917) BORIS KOLONITSKII European University at St Petersburg Translated by Arch Tait As one of the heroes of the 1917 February Revolution and then Prime Minister at the head of the Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky was passionately, even fanatically, lauded as a leader during his brief political reign. But, by October, Kerensky had been unceremoniously dethroned in the Bolshevik takeover. The breakneck trajectory of his rise and fall and the intensity of his popularity were not merely a symptom of the chaos of those times but offer a window onto a much broader historical phenomenon which did not just begin with Lenin and Stalin – the cult of the Leader. In this major new study, Boris Kolonitskii uses the figure of Kerensky to show how popular engagement with the idea of the Leader became a key component of a cultural reimagining of the political landscape after the fall of the monarchy. Kolonitskii plots the unfurling of this symbolic revolution and exposes his vital role in the development of nascent Soviet political culture.
229 x 152mm / 424 pages / UK October 2020 / US November 2020 978-1-5095-3364-0 hb £25.00, $35.00, €30.90 ebook available
The Soviet Passport The History, Nature and Uses of the Internal Passport in the USSR ALBERT BAIBURIN European University at St Petersburg Translated by Stephen Dalziel “As this unique and fascinating book records, the history of the passport offers an unexpected window on the Soviet (and indeed post-Soviet) world, laying bare a rich imaginative and experiential reality, as well as an at times depressing history of regimentation.” Catriona Kelly, University of Oxford In this remarkable book, Albert Baiburin provides the first in-depth study of the development and uses of the passport, or state identity card, in the former Soviet Union. First introduced in 1932, the Soviet passport took on an exceptional range of functions, extending not just to the regulation of movement and control of migrancy but also to the constitution of subjectivity and of social hierarchies based on place of residence, family background, and ethnic origin. While the basic role of the Soviet passport was to certify a person’s identity, it assumed a far greater significance in Soviet life. Without it, a person literally ‘disappeared’ from society. It was impossible to find employment or carry out everyday activities like picking up a parcel from the post office; a person could not marry or even officially die without a passport. It was absolutely essential on virtually every occasion when an individual had contact with officialdom because it was always necessary to prove that the individual was the person whom they claimed to be. And since the passport included an indication of the holder’s ethnic identity, individuals found themselves accorded a certain rank in a new hierarchy of nationalities where some ethnic categories were ‘normal’ and others were stigmatized. Passport systems were used by state officials for the deportation of entire population categories – the so-called ‘former people’, those from the pre-revolutionary elite, and the relations of ‘enemies of the people’. But at the same time, passport ownership became the signifier of an acceptable social existence, and the passport itself – the information it contained, the photographs and signatures – became part of the life experience and self-perception of those who possessed it. This meticulously researched and highly original book will be of great interest to students and scholars of Russia and the Soviet Union and to anyone interested in the shaping of identity in the modern world.
229 x 152mm / 436 pages / UK November 2021 / US January 2022 978-1-5095-4318-2 hb £35.00, $45.00, €42.90 ebook available
Today it is more important than ever to break down the barriers that separate nations and cultures and to make available in English some of the best work being done in other languages. Polity’s New Russian Thought series seeks to publish books of the highest quality written by the very best Russian scholars and public intellectuals.
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