Red Autobiographies

Initiating the Bolshevik Self

Igal Halfin

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  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2011
  • Subject Listing: History / European History; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
  • Bibliographic information: 224 pp., 9 x 6 in.
  • Distributed for: Herbert J. Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies
  • Series: Donald W. Treadgold Studies on Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia
  • Contents

In Red Autobiographies, Igal Halfin reads admission records of the Soviet Communist Party cells in the 1920s for what they reveal about the politics of self-representation in Bolshevik political culture. He identifies ways of speaking about oneself as a central arena of the Soviet revolution's drive for discovering, changing, and perfecting the self. The study is based on sources-many of which are no longer as freely accessible as they were during the heyday of the Soviet "archival bonanza" - in provincial party archives in Leningrad, Smolensk, and Tomsk. Its principal merit is Halfin's masterful handling and interpretation of those sources. The study also serves as a popular "short course" on Halfin's seminal contributions to the historiographies of Russia, communism, and modern subjectivity.
Igal Halfin is a professor of modern history in Tel Aviv University.
1. Party Admissions in Paranoid Times
2. Workers Toward the Light
3. Peasant Enrollment
4. The Intelligentsia
Appendix: The Case of Fiodor Fiodorovich Raskol'nikov: Bolshevick Authobiographies Across the 1917 Divide

". . . Halfin's first-rate readings of this material makes for very compelling reading."
-Auri C. Berg, Canadian Slavonic Papers, March-June 2012

"Using as his main source autobiographies written by people who wanted to join the Bolshevik party during the initial postrevolutionary years, Halfin demonstrates how these Bosheviks-to-be learned to narrate their lives in the language of the new political regime."
-Serguei Oushakine, The Russian Review, June 2012

". . . [Halfin] consistently provides analytically rich, theoretically challenging and inspiring works. To dismiss his penetrating and creative revisionism is to suffer from a more intellectually debilitating form of myopia."
-Sean Guillory, The NEP Era: Soviet Russia 1921-1928, 2011