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Crossing the divide: tradition, rupture, and modernity in Revolutionary Russia

Willimott, A. and Neumann, M. (2018) Crossing the divide: tradition, rupture, and modernity in Revolutionary Russia. In: Willimott, A. and Neumann, M. (eds.) Rethinking the Russian Revolution as Historical Divide. Routledge, London & New York, pp. 1-20. ISBN 9781136945623

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Abstract/Summary

This agenda-setting chapter sets the pathway for future research into the Russian Revolution. Nineteen-seventeen has often been presented as a complete break with the past, with everything which had gone before swept away, and all aspects of politics, economy, and society reformed and made new. This is a Bolshevik narrative that scholars have all too easily accepted. However, by applying the theory of “multiple modernities” and “entangled modernities” to the Russian Revolution, this chapter shows how the new and the old came together to create the Soviet experience—it reveals how a complicated mixture of new Soviet thinking and ideas developed before 1917 converged to established a specific cultural context. The chapter also shows how current historiographical factions might speak to one another through a “multiple modernities approach” that presents change and continuity as part of a historical relationship. More specifically, it unites the “modernity school” (which has focused on modern ideology and statecraft as an explanation for the Soviet Union) and the “neo-traditional school” (which has focused on unchanging patron-client relations as a means of explaining all Russian history). By accepting a plurality of modernities—not just a Eurocentric version—we can better understand the development of the Soviet Union. We also get away from the idea that Russia “got modernity wrong” or that the Bolsheviks imposed modernity on an unchanging state.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Modern European Histories and Cultures
ID Code:77999
Publisher:Routledge

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