Industrial Deals HPC Magazine Deals Holiday Dress Guide nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Listen for a chance to win Electronics Gift Guide Limited time offer Handmade Last Minute Gifts Holiday Home Gift Guide Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon JCVJ JCVJ JCVJ  All-new Echo Save $10 on Fire 7. Limited-time offer. $20 off Kindle Paperwhite GNO Shop Now HTL17_gno

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
6
Arctic Mirrors: Russia and the Small Peoples of the North (Cornell Paperbacks)
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$28.02+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on April 29, 2017
It's a comprehensive study of the Siberian minorities. It was delivered fast and was in a very good condition. Thank you!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon November 13, 2013
You are either a member of the majority or of the minority, and there is no way to equalize the two. This is the gist of this treatise by Yuri Slezkine. If you want to save a lot of time just read the eight page conclusion at the back of the book. If you like a lot of data and discussion of a subject 'ad finitum and ad nauseum' read the book. That's not to say that the book isn't worthwhile, it's just that most people don't need to read all the back-up to the conclusions.

From the time of the Tsars, there was always someone who was either trying to turn the people of the Russian North East (on the Tundra and the Taiga) into productive 'modern' workers or protect them from the influence of modernity. Rich Saudis may still where the same robes (though of much better quality) that their nomad ancestors wore just 150 years ago, but how many of them have the survival skills to live in the desert.

You cannot be a 'noble savage' and be socially mainstream. The two cancel each other out. You can keep the language and the culture of your 'people', but if you live in a city you lose your ability to survive in the wild. Once your used to going to the supermarket to get food, you lose the 'imperative' of living a 'primative' existence. This doesn't mean you can't play Thoreau, but in the back of your mind you'll always know you can walk out of the forest and go back to a modern life.

Zeb Kantrowitz
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on April 9, 2004
This is a great book. Slezkine has provided us with a comprehensive history of the encounter between the Russians and the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and northwestern Pacific. Based on original archival sources whenever possible, the narrative is thick in detail and rich in analysis. I enjoyed his writing style, but his arguments can be difficult to follow for non-academics. He focuses on the “numerically small” peoples of Siberia, who are often subordinated in accounts which privilege ethnic Russians, Komi and Sakha (Yakut) peoples in the east. Believing that ideas matter, Slezkine grounds the events and policies of his history in the intellectual fashions current at the time. Thus, we get a cultural and intellectual history of conquest and administration structuring the narrative which tacks between the Russian and native Siberian points of view.
Cossacks did not establish any “New Russia” because they did not understand Siberia as a discovery. The Princes of Rus long knew about “Ostiaks” to the east, and sixteenth century empire-building consisted of conquering foreign peoples throughout the continuous Eurasian landmass. There were no breakthroughs across great divides like the Atlantic. At the same time, the conquerors knew they were among foreign peoples, and it was imperative to get the “real” names from the locals. Foreigners were expected to remain foreign; they had only to pay their tribute and express appropriate obsequies to the Tsar, who discouraged the church from converting foreign tribute-payers to Orthodox Russians. Not that Russian conquest was less brutal than Spanish or English conquests elsewhere, but early Russian conquerors’ open-ended world-view did not force new people and territories into closed, Old World categories.
The rules of the relationship changed during the era of Peter the Great. With the coming of the Enlightenment to Russia, “foreigners” (of a different land) became “aliens” (of different birth). Peter’s fascination with western science led to several scientific expeditions into the north and the east to enumerate and classify everything (and every one) under the dominion of the Tsar. Groups were distinguished by language in a typology of peoples that has persisted to the present day. This second encounter “between the Russian and the native northerners was that between perfection and crudity” (p. 56). German anti-primitivism held sway in Russian thought, and the savages were certainly not noble.
By the close of the eighteenth century the increasing currency of the French Encyclopedists in intellectual circles paralleled the rise of Russian sentimentalism, and a different picture of natives emerged. As disease and warfare decimated the tribute payers, they became ennobled and in need of “protection.” Under Alexander I, reformers established the first comprehensive statement of global policy on the natives with the Statute of Alien Administration in Siberia in 1822. Classifying all (non-Russian) peoples into one of three categories (settled, nomadic, or wanderers), this statute structured native status for the next one hundred years.
Arctic Mirrors presents the story of the rise and fall of Russian anthropology for the first time. This is a significant contribution to the history of anthropology as an international discipline. More than half of the book deals with the Soviet period. Slezkine offers a lucid analysis of the surreal logic of Stalinist social policy and social science, where bureaucrats and scientists alike were often forced to recant truths they adamantly defended only months before in order to save their skins. He also traces the current nationalist ideology largely responsible for the breakup of the Soviet Union to the conscious and consistent ethnic policies of Lenin and Stalin, another legacy of romantic nationalism of the nineteenth century.
Slezkine succeeds in presenting the complexities of a complex encounter. The natives of the north are not passive dupes or innocent victims. Arctic Mirrors has already become required reading for anyone interested in the history or anthropology of Siberia, and it will soon establish itself as an invaluable contribution to the growing field of studies on the Newly Independent States. It also points up interesting parallels and contrasts with other European empires in the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on February 1, 2009
In contrast to Forsyth's History of the Native Peoples of Siberia, this is Siberia as seen by the bureaucrats and thinkers who tried to administer and understand it. There are many detailed quotes and anecdotes, but it does not add up to a coherent history. For the beginner, there is not enough background on who and where the peoples were. Students of the soviet period will be interested the the problem of collectivizing nomadic hunters. So: a good backup, but read Forsyth first.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
This must read opens the door on the many 'small' peoples of Russias North, who live in Siberia and have for thousands of years, comparable to the native Americans, they were crushed and moved around in soviet times, wiht many different methods applied to make them 'russian' 'christian' or good 'socialists'. This is an excellent account and a great eye opener to the vastness and diversity of the Russian landscape, a tragedy unto itself but the people will be preserved through accounts such as this.

Seth J. Frantzman
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on August 6, 2014
Excellent research!!!
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse