ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the relationship between knowledge and power in early Soviet approaches to the governance of rural regions. It argues that the different roles played by agricultural experts are symptomatic of the changing patterns of Soviet rule in the countryside. Alarmed by a severe famine in 1891–2, contemporaries framed their concern about the countryside using the concept of the "agrarian question". The rise of the "agrarian question" was accompanied by a considerable change in the way the village was theoretically conceptualized. The incorporation of experts into state service was symptomatic of the new approach to the governance of rural regions after the Bolshevik takeover. Convinced that agricultural policy under New Economic Policy (NEP) was meant to support peasant family farming, leading staff members regarded plans as tools primarily to create order in a countryside that had sunk into chaos and destruction.