A Little Corner of Freedom: Russian Nature Protection from Stalin to Gorbachev
While researching Russia's historical efforts to protect nature, Douglas Weiner unearthed unexpected findings: a trail of documents that raised fundamental questions about the Soviet political system. These surprising documents attested to the unlikely survival of a critical-minded, scientist-led movement through the Stalin years and beyond. It appeared that, within scientific societies, alternative visions of land use, resrouce exploitation, habitat protection, and development were sustained and even publicly advocated. In sharp contrast to known Soviet practices, these scientific societies prided themselves on their traditions of free elections, foreign contacts, and a pre-revolutionary heritage.
Weiner portrays nature protection activists not as do-or-die resisters to the system, nor as inoffensive do-gooders. Rather, they took advantage of an unpoliced realm of speech and activity and of the patronage by middle-level Soviet officials to struggle for a softer path to development. In the process, they defended independent social and professional identities in the face of a system that sought to impose official models of behavior, ethics, and identity for all. Written in a lively style, this absorbing story tells for the first time how organized participation in nature protection provided an arena for affirming and perpetuating self-generated social identities in the USSR and preserving a counterculture whose legacy survives today.
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Academy of Sciences acclimatization activists activity Agriculture Aleksandr Aleksandrovich All-Russian Society all-Union Askania-Nova Avetisian Baikal biology bison Bochkarev Boreik0 bureaucrats Central Committee Chernousov Chivilikhin commission Comrade conference Congress conservation Council of Ministers cultural decree defend Dement'ev draft druzhina ecological economic Efremov environmental forest forestry Formozov Fridman Geptner Glavokhota Gosplan hectares Ibid Institute intelligentsia Kedrograd Khrushchev Komsomol Kuznetsov leaders leadership letter listy Lysenko Main Administration Makarov Malinovskii MOIP Moscow Moscow oblast Moscow State University Moscow University Nasimovich nature protection movement Nikolaevich Nikolai oblast official Okhrana okhrane organization Parfenov Party plants political president Presidium prirody problems Protection of Nature Protopopov question regime republics reserves RGAE f RSFSR Council rubles Russian scientific public opinion scientists Sergei Shipunov Shvarts Siberian social identity Society's Soviet Union SSSR Stalin Sukachev Taurin territories tion transformation TsGA f ture USSR USSR Ministry Varsonof'eva Vladimir VOOP VOOP's Zablotskii zapovedniki