chapter  2
52 Pages

Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union, and the Russian Republic

The Majority as an Obstacle to Progress?
WithEsther Kingston-Mann

This chapter suggests that in the past and in the present, the modernizer's agency-denying mindset continues to function as an obstacle to the development of realistic economic analysis and development programs in rural societies. In twentieth-century Russia, rural women and men experienced three quite different state-sponsored, land rights revolutions. In 1906, the Stolypin Reforms attempted to make Russia capitalist by eliminating the communes to which most peasants belonged, and enforcing an English-style coverture. A rural woman's opportunities in life were profoundly shaped by marriage and the rules of patrilineal inheritance. Peasant women were guaranteed two forms of inalienable property: their dowries and the contents of a "women's box" that included the profits gained from weaving, pottery-making, marketing garden produce, and other gendered labour activities. In 1929, over 100,000 Soviet peasant women mounted the most radical challenge to state power ever to occur during the Stalin era.