With the advent of spring and beginning of the new harvest season the creators of abundance, our peasants, come out to the fields to sow with good aspirations and hopes… Islom Karimov


During the 1970’s the United States of America shipped tons of grain to the Soviet Union since that socialist paradise was no longer able to feed itself. I worked loading many of these ships and my father’s family had come from the Ukraine at the turn of the 20th century in the great wave of displaced peasants who came to the United States with their knowledge of growing wheat that formed the basis of the agricultural industry that fed their former countrymen three-quarters of a century later. This history is no longer celebrated since it might contradict the current wisdom but just as it is easy for the ignorant to misidentify the pile in the barnyard it is a good deal harder to fool flies – or peasants!

Heretics and colonizers : forging Russia’s empire in the south Caucasus  Nicholas B. Breyfogle  Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 2005  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xvii, 347 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 319-338) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Russian types of Tartar, (i.e., Tatar), women of the Caucasus, Russia

Russian types of Tartar, (i.e., Tatar), women of the Caucasus, Russia

In Heretics and Colonizers, Breyfogle explores the dynamic intersection of Russian borderland colonization and popular religious culture. He reconstructs the story of the religious sectarians (Dukhobors, Molokans, and Subbotniks) who settled, either voluntarily or by force, in the newly conquered lands of Transcaucasia in the nineteenth century. By ordering this migration in 1830, Nicholas I attempted at once to cleanse Russian Orthodoxy of heresies and to populate the newly annexed lands with ethnic Slavs who would shoulder the burden of imperial construction.

Women baking bread outdoors, Caucasus, Georgia (Republic)

Women baking bread outdoors, Caucasus, Georgia (Republic)

Breyfogle focuses throughout on the lives of the peasant settlers, their interactions with the peoples and environment of the South Caucasus, and their evolving relations with Russian state power. He draws on a wide variety of archival sources, including a large collection of previously unexamined letters, memoirs, and other documents produced by the sectarians that allow him unprecedented insight into the experiences of colonization and religious life. Although the settlers suffered greatly in their early years in hostile surroundings, they in time proved to be not only model Russian colonists but also among the most prosperous of the Empire’s peasants. Banished to the empire’s periphery, the sectarians ironically came to play indispensable roles in the tsarist imperial agenda.

Two women winnowing grain, Caucasus, Georgia (Republic)

Two women winnowing grain, Caucasus, Georgia (Republic)

The book culminates with the dramatic events of the Dukhobor pacifist rebellion, a movement that shocked the tsarist government and received international attention. In the early twentieth century, as the Russian state sought to replace the sectarians with Orthodox settlers, thousands of Molokans and Dukhobors immigrated to North America, where their descendants remain to this day.

Doukhobor pilgrims landing at Yorkton, Canada, Oct. 28, 1902

Doukhobor pilgrims landing at Yorkton, Canada, Oct. 28, 1902

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