Exhibiting Kustar’ Industry in Late Imperial Russia/Exhibiting Late Imperial Russia in Kustar’ Industry

  • Lewis H. Siegelbaum
Part of the International Council for Central and East European Studies book series (ICCEES)


Much recent Western historiography of late Imperial Russia has emphasised the indeterminacy of socio-economic positions and processes stemming from the peasant Emancipation and subsequent industrial development. Unlike an earlier generation of historians who frequently employed the metaphor of the ‘path’ to underscore the telos of revolution, the preferred imagery nowadays is one of suspended animation. If, previously, increasing social polarisation and class consciousness seemed paramount, historians now tend to stress interstertiality and identity-confusion. To cite some recent titles, the Russian clergy is said to be ‘between estate and profession’, peasant women were ‘between the fields and the city’, the city was ‘… between tradition and modernity’, while its educated strata sought a public identity ‘between tsar and people’. Urbanisation in Moscow produced a confrontation between ‘muzhik and Muscovite’, with the former’s ‘nomadic, seemingly purposeless, and dissolute way of life’ posing ‘a threat to the discipline, stability, and commitment needed to hold a city of one million together’. Not surprisingly, the ‘search for modernity’ among physicians and legal experts was impeded not only by the structures of absolute governance, but their own ambivalence about whether the Russian peasants and the partly deracinated migrants to the city could adjust to the modern civic order these professional groups otherwise craved.2


Russian Section Professional Artist Suspended Animation Peasant Woman Imperial Family 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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  • Lewis H. Siegelbaum

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