Russia and Soul: An Exploration

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9780801487095: Russia and Soul: An Exploration

This ethnography of everyday life in contemporary Russia is also an examination of discourses and practices of "soul" or dusha. Russian soul has historically appeared as a myth, a consoling fiction, and a trope of national and individual self-definition that drew romantic foreigners to Russia. Dale Pesmen shows that in the 1990s this "soul" was scorned, worshipped, and used to create, manipulate, and exploit cultural capital. Pesmen focuses on "soul" in part as what people chose to do and how they did it, especially practices considered "definitive" of Russians, such as hospitality, the use of alcoholic beverages, steam baths, Russian language, music, and suffering. Attempting to avoid narrow definitions of soul as a thing, Pesmen developed a new way of structuring ethnographic interviews.During her stay in a formerly "closed" military industrial city and surrounding villages, Pesmen spent time on public transportation and in kitchens, steam baths, vegetable gardens, shops, and workplaces. She uses stories from her fieldwork along with examples from the media and literature to introduce a phenomenology of russkaia dusha and of related American and other non-Russian metaphysical notions, exploring diverse elements in their makeup, examining and questioning the world created when people believe in the existence of such "deep," "vast," "enigmatic," "internal" centers. Among theoretical issues she addresses are those of power, community, self, exchange, coherence, and morality. Pesmen's attention to dusha gives her a multifaceted perspective on Russian culture and society and informs her rich portrayal of life in a Russian city at a historically critical moment.

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Review:

"A brilliant book that is highly recommended."―Library Journal, February 2001

"The book provides some wonderful insights into Russians' recent struggles with their own identities."―Frank Caso, Booklist. 2/15/2000

"Certainly the best and most intricate book ever written about how crucial, barely definable words in the Russian language. . . combine to shape the Russian character. . . As Pesmen unpacks her rich material with marvelous learning and verve, the indomitable spirituality of the Russian personality after 70 years of Soviet misery and 10 of capitalist corruction emerges."―Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/19/01

"Dale Pesmen has written a beautiful book about a grand but hard-to-grasp topic: the soul. The specific soul under investigation here is dusha, a specific Russian one, but Pesmen is careful not to preclude affinities with the souls of peoples from other countries. Soul, essentially, is about life, and so if Pesmen's book."―Petra Rethmann, McMaster University, Slavic Review, Vol. 61, No. 3, Fall 2002

"Dale Pesmen. . . is sensitive, perceptive, responsive, curious, and obsevant. Judging from her account, she has learned excellent Russion. She presents a vivid picture, which an experienced Russian hand witth recognize as authentic, of Russian habits and conversations in a mid-szed Siberian city. Her powers of illuminating description of places, situations, and people are admirable."―Nathaniel Davis, Harvey Mudd College. Russian Review, 62:1, Jan. 2003.

"This is the best book about Russia ever written. By using dusha as her organizing principle, Dale Pesmen has captured what it is like to be Russian and to live in Russia. Russia and Soul is so readable that when I open it at any page I have difficulty putting it down. It is like a mandala, drawing you into itself and causing you to contemplate the nature of existence."―Victor A. Friedman, University of Chicago

"Dazzlingly original and penetratingly insightful, this is a volume of singular erudition, bound to be a touchstone for all future studies of Russian culture, society, philosophy, and literature. Dale Pesmen has peered into the seeming cliché of Russian soul to reveal an intricate cosmology, one that profoundly shapes social behavior and self-creation."―Nancy Ries, Colgate University

From Booklist:

As the author herself notes, the idea of the Russian soul (dusha) has become something of a cliche; yet its metaphysical reality is undeniable. This book is an anthropological study of that reality--an attempt to come to grips through firsthand experience with dusha. Pesmen did most of her research in the Siberian city of Omsk and a neighboring village, and in this book, we are introduced to a group of people who are themselves struggling with the notion of dusha in late- and post-Soviet society. Pesmen grapples with her thesis from many points: linguistic, mask and carnival, ritual, power and authority, and, of course, economic. Her style is academic, meaning numerous citations, but the writing is only occasionally clunky (such as the use of the word collage as a verb), and it really takes off when she describes her own experiences. As you might expect, the conclusions she draws are ultimately not definitive, yet the book provides some wonderful insights into Russians' recent struggles with their own identities. Frank Caso
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Descrizione libro Cornell University Press, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This ethnography of everyday life in contemporary Russia is also an examination of discourses and practices of soul or dusha. Russian soul has historically appeared as a myth, a consoling fiction, and a trope of national and individual self-definition that drew romantic foreigners to Russia. Dale Pesmen shows that in the 1990s this soul was scorned, worshipped, and used to create, manipulate, and exploit cultural capital. Pesmen focuses on soul in part as what people chose to do and how they did it, especially practices considered definitive of Russians, such as hospitality, the use of alcoholic beverages, steam baths, Russian language, music, and suffering. Attempting to avoid narrow definitions of soul as a thing, Pesmen developed a new way of structuring ethnographic interviews.During her stay in a formerly closed military industrial city and surrounding villages, Pesmen spent time on public transportation and in kitchens, steam baths, vegetable gardens, shops, and workplaces. She uses stories from her fieldwork along with examples from the media and literature to introduce a phenomenology of russkaia dusha and of related American and other non-Russian metaphysical notions, exploring diverse elements in their makeup, examining and questioning the world created when people believe in the existence of such deep, vast, enigmatic, internal centers. Among theoretical issues she addresses are those of power, community, self, exchange, coherence, and morality. Pesmen s attention to dusha gives her a multifaceted perspective on Russian culture and society and informs her rich portrayal of life in a Russian city at a historically critical moment. Codice libro della libreria AAU9780801487095

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Descrizione libro Cornell University Press, United States, 2000. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This ethnography of everyday life in contemporary Russia is also an examination of discourses and practices of soul or dusha. Russian soul has historically appeared as a myth, a consoling fiction, and a trope of national and individual self-definition that drew romantic foreigners to Russia. Dale Pesmen shows that in the 1990s this soul was scorned, worshipped, and used to create, manipulate, and exploit cultural capital. Pesmen focuses on soul in part as what people chose to do and how they did it, especially practices considered definitive of Russians, such as hospitality, the use of alcoholic beverages, steam baths, Russian language, music, and suffering. Attempting to avoid narrow definitions of soul as a thing, Pesmen developed a new way of structuring ethnographic interviews.During her stay in a formerly closed military industrial city and surrounding villages, Pesmen spent time on public transportation and in kitchens, steam baths, vegetable gardens, shops, and workplaces. She uses stories from her fieldwork along with examples from the media and literature to introduce a phenomenology of russkaia dusha and of related American and other non-Russian metaphysical notions, exploring diverse elements in their makeup, examining and questioning the world created when people believe in the existence of such deep, vast, enigmatic, internal centers. Among theoretical issues she addresses are those of power, community, self, exchange, coherence, and morality. Pesmen s attention to dusha gives her a multifaceted perspective on Russian culture and society and informs her rich portrayal of life in a Russian city at a historically critical moment. Codice libro della libreria AAU9780801487095

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Descrizione libro Cornell University Press. Paperback. Condizione libro: new. BRAND NEW, Russia and Soul: An Exploration, Dale Pesman. Codice libro della libreria B9780801487095

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Descrizione libro Cornell University Press, 2000. Condizione libro: New. Num Pages: 384 pages. BIC Classification: 1DVUA; JHMC. Category: (G) General (US: Trade); (UP) Postgraduate, Research & Scholarly; (UU) Undergraduate. Dimension: 157 x 234 x 23. Weight in Grams: 546. . 2000. 1st Edition. Paperback. . . . . . Codice libro della libreria V9780801487095

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