Russian Nationalism From an Interdisciplinary Perspective Imagining Russia

Author: Rancour-Laferriere, Daniel
Year:2000
Pages:364
ISBN:0-7734-7671-7
978-0-7734-7671-4
Price:239.95
Ethnic Russians, like any other nation, constitute what Benedict Anderson terms an ‘imagined community.’ How do Russians ‘imagine’ Russia, now and for the past three centuries? This study sheds new light on this and other ‘cursed’ questions of Russian history (nationalism, anti-Semitism, Orthodox Christianity and ethnic ‘others’; Russian nationalists’ reaction to NATO actions in Kosovo). Recent empirical work by the Russian ethnopsychologists Leokadiia Drobizheva and Zinaida Sikevich is brought to bear on the topic of ethnic conflict in today’s Russia. Russian identity itself is viewed in the light of Donald Winnicott’s concept of ‘transitional object.’ Conversations with Russian psychoanalysts are presented.

“The book is divided into two parts, each rich in insight and information: ‘The Russian Self’ (who the Russians think they are); and ‘The Russian Other’ (what they think concerning non-Russians). Readers interested in the excesses of Russian nationalism will not be disappointed, but essentially this fascinating book is optimistic. . . . the more readers already know about Russia, the more Rancour-Laferriere will reward them; so this book is especially appropriate for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and professors.” – CHOICE

“. . . a scrupulous and fearless inquiry into on of the most painful problems of contemporary Russia – Russian nationalism. . . . Meticulously researched, highly original in approach, it makes a significant contribution to the field of Russian studies. It is an important books for anyone who is interested in political and cultural life of today’s Russia. I could see a whole score of specialists in other fields – ethnic studies, political science, cultural history, literature, sociology, cultural anthropology, etc, - who will benefit from this fine and penetrating study.” – Dr. Emil A. Draitser

“Always provocative and thoroughly grounded in the latest scholarship of a variety of disciplines (including sociology, history, literary study, political science, and applied psychoanalysis), Rancour-Laferriere’s book is must reading for anyone studying or teaching about Russia. . . . A provocative interdisciplinary book with bold theses and persuasive arguments. It is bound to alter your perspective on the complex subject of Russian nationalism. . . . The topics include ethnic identity, nationalism, national awareness, religious identity and related issues such as anti-Semitism, Eurasianism, ethnic hatred, expansionism, ethnic paranoia, and xenophobia. The effectiveness of this study is further underscored by the author’s successful effort to utilize a variety of relevant disciplines.” – Dr. George Gutsche

Reviews

"Rancour-Laferriere (Univ. of California, Davis) addresses Russian national identity, a subject appropriate to the psychology that readers have come to associate with his works. A Freudian approach ties this study to the author's Mind of Stalin (1988) and The Slave Soul of Russia (CH, Sep'95). However, true to the strangely inverted title, extensive notes and bibliography testify to impressive scholarship ranging across many academic disciplines. Asserting that "the individual Russian imagines Russia," Rancour-Laferriere repeatedly reminds us that there is a reality from which imagination may deviate, wildly in some notable cases. The book is divided into two parts, each rich in insight and information: "The Russian Self" (who the Russians think they are); and "The Russian Other" (what they think concerning non-Russians). Readers interested in the excesses of Russian nationalism will not be disappointed, but essentially this fascinating book is optimistic. It concludes with the observation that, beneath the chaos of post-Soviet times, millions of individual Russians are shedding the "moral masochism" that, down through the ages, has constituted the weakest element of the national character. The more readers already know about Russia, the more Rancour-Laferriere will reward them; so this book is especially appropriate for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and professors." - CHOICE

“. . . a scrupulous and fearless inquiry into on of the most painful problems of contemporary Russia – Russian nationalism. . . . Meticulously researched, highly original in approach, it makes a significant contribution to the field of Russian studies. It is an important books for anyone who is interested in political and cultural life of today’s Russia. I could see a whole score of specialists in other fields – ethnic studies, political science, cultural history, literature, sociology, cultural anthropology, etc, - who will benefit from this fine and penetrating study.” – Dr. Emil A. Draitser, Professor of Russian, Division of Russian and Slavic Languages, Hunter College-CUNY

“Always provocative and thoroughly grounded in the latest scholarship of a variety of disciplines (including sociology, history, literary study, political science, and applied psychoanalysis), Rancour-Laferriere’s book is must reading for anyone studying or teaching about Russia. . . . A provocative interdisciplinary book with bold theses and persuasive arguments. It is bound to alter your perspective on the complex subject of Russian nationalism. . . . The topics include ethnic identity, nationalism, national awareness, religious identity and related issues such as anti-Semitism, Eurasianism, ethnic hatred, expansionism, ethnic paranoia, and xenophobia. The effectiveness of this study is further underscored by the author’s successful effort to utilize a variety of relevant disciplines.” – Dr. George Gutsche, Profesor and Head of Department, Russian and Slavic Languages, University of Arizona

"Provides a provocative introduction to those themes in courses of Russian culture, and it can be read profitably as a survey of the vagaries of Russian self-understanding." - Prof. Thomas Seifrid, University of California

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface
Introduction: The Slow Dawn of Russian National Awareness; Russia vs. Rus’
The Long Memory of Russian Nationalists; Psychoanalysis and National Feelings
PART I: The Russian Self and The Illusion of Russia
What is Russian Identity?; Identity is Not Character; The Post-Soviet Identity Flux; Russia as Imagined Collective; The Individual and Mother Russia; Mother Russia Herself; Europe vs. Asia; Eurasianist Russian Nationalism; The Deep End of Eurasianism; The Island of Russia; Is Russia Falling Apart?; Fragmentation by Emigration; Are the Russians a Biological Unity?; Russia as Riddle; The Empty Russian Idea; The Illusion of Russia
PART II: The Russian Other and the Enemies of Russia
The Threatening Other; Some Surface Features of Ethnic Hatred in Russia; Assimilationism and Ethnic Hostility; The Hateful Side of Russian Universalism; The Narcissism of Empire; Ontogenetic Explorations; Ethnic Projection; Relating Masochism to Ethnic Paranoia; Conclusion – Some Personal Experiences
Notes, Bibliography