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Russia's Abandoned Children: An Intimate Understanding

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0275979096
ISBN-10: 0275979091
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Editorial Reviews


"Fujimura provides an astonishing anthropological perspective on a virtually unexplored and forgotten group of the world's most vulnerable children. The author must be applauded first for the comprehensive and rigorous participant observation that she conducted over several years. Rarely is a researcher so devoted. In addition, she is somehow able to provide readers with a stark and shocking view of the lowest common denominator [of children] in a manner that is rich, comprehensive, and extraordinarily disturbing. Yet, somehow, Fujimura presents her research--the stories she uncovers--with a uniquely sensitive understanding of Russian culture, contemporary and historic. The manner in which she writes, often using the voice and subjective perspective of Russian citizens, allows readers to learn about an invisible group of children within the context of an almost forgotten world. This amazing book has the depth of rigorous research, yet reads like a novel. Highly recommended. Professional and lay readers, especially those interested in international adoption. All levels." - Choice

"Fujimura has written an intense and powerful book. In addition to providing a disturbing portrait of Russia's abandoned children, the book's great merit is found in the author's insights about the cultural meaning of child abandonment in Russia." - Smith College Studies in Social Work

"[F]ascinating case studies….[c]ould stimulate good discussion on issues like the role of culture in human development and the universality or specificity of the causes and/or effects of experiences (e.g., the abandonment of children) that cross national lines." - PsycCritques

"Draws on interview and other data to examine the lives and stigmatization of children in Russian shleters, orphanages, and streets." - The Chronicle of Higher Education

About the Author

Clementine K. Fujimura is an Associate Professor of language and culture studies at the United States Naval Academy, where she teaches Russian and German, culture, and literature courses. She received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Chicago and has been writing about Russia's homeless children, abandonment, and its cultural concept of childhood since 1991. She has received numerous grants and fellowships in support of her work on homeless children in Russia.

Sally W. Stoecker is a Lecturer in ciminology and criminal law, and a candidate of sciences, at Baikal State University of Economics in Irkutsk, Russia. Her reserach focuses on child homelessness, drug addiction of minors, and juvenile crime. She is formerly Coordinator of the Irkutsk Center for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption in Irkutsk.

Tatyana Sudakova is Scholar-in-Residence at American University's Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC), where she conducts research on human trafficking, child homelessness and exploitation, and juvenile crime. Stoecker also teaches courses on child homelessness and exploitation, and juvenile crime. Stoecker teaches courses on Russian politics in the School of International Service at American University and served as Executive Editor of Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization for six years.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (September 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275979091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275979096
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,962,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Melina Zegen on April 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I wrote this review for a class on youth in Russia. I thought I should share...

Based on field work conducted in Russia in 1990-91 and in 1999, Fujimura's book's main thesis (which is spread mainly across the first three chapters) is that Russian culture is, to a great degree, responsible for the pitiful state of abandoned children in that country. Though the author does not explicitly single out Russian culture for criticism, it is clear that she does not think this thesis applies to most other countries, were "non-cultural" reasons for child neglect prevail:

"While many countries experience homelessness, not all of them have the same reasons for their homeless children. For some countries, economic circumstances are mainly to blame. For others, war or HIV infection is the primary cause. In Russia, cultural attitudes, how people subconsciously feel about and ultimately react to homelessness, (...) are equally important to understanding the plight of orphans and street children." (31)

The first part of the author's thesis is that, in fact, most Russians' ideas of childhood resemble Tolstoy's idealized writings about it. Often quoting the writer himself, many Russians describe this time of life as one characterized by happiness, innocence, and carefreeness. Fujimura confirms what her subjects have reported in interviews by observing overprotective grandmothers and mothers playing with their children and grandchildren in the parks and playgrounds of Moscow, cuddling them, delighting in their every move, and keeping them warm.
The second part of Fujimura's thesis attempts to explain "why a society that traditionally idealizes childhood is finding it difficult to understand and save the children most in need" (83) i.e. those who are abandoned.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not about adoption. That's why adoption isn't in the title.

It details why there are so many orphaned children, why the problem can't be solved simply by throwing money in the system, and what fate these children await as they grow into adulthood. It contains very detailed personal encounters with street children that you can't find anywhere else. No one has taken the journey this author has and devoted the time to write about.
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Format: Hardcover
International adoption is a hot and relevent topic these days. Russia is a destination for many. So, any information about adopting from Russia and therefore its orphanage system, might be helpful and useful for those considering the country. However, this is not the book to offer any insight or educated, integrated, defensibly researched understanding of what you will be facing. Or even of what the book purports to explain. Unfortunately, this is a text compiled at about a B- grade level of a sophomore level research paper at a third tier university. Written by a diplomat's wife in collaboration with two others, I can almost see the disjointed quotes, on the index cards. Certainly not the "pioneering work on child abandonment" it purports to be.
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