The Patriotism of Despair: Nation, War, and Loss in Russia by Serguei Alex. OushakineThe Patriotism of Despair: Nation, War, and Loss in Russia by Serguei Alex. Oushakine

The Patriotism of Despair: Nation, War, and Loss in Russia

bySerguei Alex. Oushakine

Paperback | April 30, 2009

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The sudden dissolution of the Soviet Union altered the routines, norms, celebrations, and shared understandings that had shaped the lives of Russians for generations. It also meant an end to the state-sponsored, nonmonetary support that most residents had lived with all their lives. How did Russians make sense of these historic transformations? Serguei Alex. Oushakine offers a compelling look at postsocialist life in Russia.

In Barnaul, a major industrial city in southwestern Siberia that has lost 25 percent of its population since 1991, many Russians are finding that what binds them together is loss and despair. The Patriotism of Despair examines the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, graphically described in spray paint by a graffiti artist in Barnaul: "We have no Motherland." Once socialism disappeared as a way of understanding the world, what replaced it in people's minds? Once socialism stopped orienting politics and economics, how did capitalism insinuate itself into routine practices?

Oushakine offers a compelling look at postsocialist life in noncosmopolitan Russia. He introduces readers to the "neocoms": people who mourn the loss of the Soviet economy and the remonetization of transactions that had not involved the exchange of cash during the Soviet era. Moving from economics into military conflict and personal loss, Oushakine also describes the ways in which veterans of the Chechen war and mothers of soldiers who died there have connected their immediate experiences with the country's historical disruptions. The country, the nation, and traumatized individuals, Oushakine finds, are united by their vocabulary of shared pain.

Title:The Patriotism of Despair: Nation, War, and Loss in RussiaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.27 inPublished:April 30, 2009Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801475570

ISBN - 13:9780801475573

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Editorial Reviews

"Serguei Oushakine's The Patriotism of Despair is a revolutionary book, the true subject of which is the collapse of the democratic revolution in Russia. It reveals the cultural and psychological, rather than merely political, reasons for the post-Soviet rejection of Western liberal ideologies and even the mass popularity of aggressively nationalist, racist, pro-Soviet and neotraditionalist discourses and narratives. Oushakine's work encompasses the meticulous analysis of various social groups located in Altai, the Siberian region on the border with China and Kazakhstan, and interviews with neocommunists, leftists, nationalists, and Chechnya veterans and their mothers. This book is especially valuable as it goes beyond worn binary oppositions, instead presenting a coherent—albeit quite unsettling—vision of post-Soviet society that is simultaneously fragmented and united by the trauma caused by the collapse of the Soviet world and seeking various imaginary and real forms of community and solidarity that inevitably turn out to be based upon loss, grief, and absence. This approach undermines both Western stereotypes about Russia and post-Soviet political self-imaging. It offers little optimism, but Oushakine's genuine interest in his personages represents the post-Soviet experience as an exuberantly rich and important facet of contemporary modernity."—Mark Lipovetsky, University of Colorado–Boulder