The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals by Douglas RogersThe Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals by Douglas Rogers

The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals

byDouglas Rogers

Paperback | October 22, 2009

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The Old Faith and the Russian Land is a historical ethnography that charts the ebbs and flows of ethical practice in a small Russian town over three centuries. The town of Sepych was settled in the late seventeenth century by religious dissenters who fled to the forests of the Urals to escape a world they believed to be in the clutches of the Antichrist. Factions of Old Believers, as these dissenters later came to be known, have maintained a presence in the town ever since. The townspeople of Sepych have also been serfs, free peasants, collective farmers, and, now, shareholders in a post-Soviet cooperative. Douglas Rogers traces connections between the town and some of the major transformations of Russian history, showing how townspeople have responded to a long series of attempts to change them and their communities: tsarist-era efforts to regulate family life and stamp out Old Belief on the Stroganov estates, Soviet collectivization drives and antireligious campaigns, and the marketization, religious revival, and ongoing political transformations of post-Soviet times.

Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork and extensive archival and manuscript sources, Rogers argues that religious, political, and economic practice are overlapping arenas in which the people of Sepych have striven to be ethical—in relation to labor and money, food and drink, prayers and rituals, religious books and manuscripts, and the surrounding material landscape. He tracks the ways in which ethical sensibilities—about work and prayer, hierarchy and inequality, gender and generation—have shifted and recombined over time. Rogers concludes that certain expectations about how to be an ethical person have continued to orient townspeople in Sepych over the course of nearly three centuries for specific, identifiable, and often unexpected reasons. Throughout, he demonstrates what a historical and ethnographic study of ethics might look like and uses this approach to ask new questions of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet history.

Douglas Rogers is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University. He is the author of The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals and The Depths of Russia: Oil, Power, and Culture after Socialism, both published by Cornell.
Title:The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the UralsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.75 inPublished:October 22, 2009Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801475201

ISBN - 13:9780801475207

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Ethics, Russia, History

Part I. An Ethical Repertoire

1. In Search of Salvation on the Stroganov Estates

2. Faith, Family, and Land after Emancipation

Part II. The Generations and Ethics of Socialism

3. Youth: Exemplars of Rural Socialism

4. Elders: Christian Ascetics in the Soviet Countryside

Part III. Struggles to Shape an Emergent Ethical Regime

5. New Risks and Inequalities in the Household Sector

6. Which Khoziain? Whose Moral Community?

7. Society, Culture, and the Churching of Sepych

8. Separating Post-Soviet Worlds? Priestly Baptisms and Priestless Funerals


Editorial Reviews

"This beautifully written and highly original historical ethnography moves with extraordinary acumen across disciplines and prompts us to rethink ethics, moral personhood, and historical experience in rural Russia. Douglas Rogers's sensitive analysis of the twists and turns of Russian history offers a critique of many theories of transition and breaks new ground in offering fresh perspectives and theoretical tools that are guaranteed to stimulate debate. The Old Faith and the Russian Land is a must-read for anyone interested in the region." - Catherine Wanner, author of Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism