The Woodrow Wilson Center Press

What People are Saying

“What is the opposite of ivory tower? The black earth of Solovyovo, perhaps? Margaret Paxson, a brilliant anthropologist, has gotten her hands—and a lot else besides—dirty in the mud of a Russian village, to the enormous benefit of the readers of her new book. Paxson makes a huge contribution to our knowledge of the Russian village, an ancient human institution whose uniqueness has survived wars and revolutions for centuries. One's sense of Russia will never be quite the same after reading her book.”—Robert G. Kaiser, author of Russia: The People and the Power, and Why Gorbachev Happened

“Through intensive, careful ethnographic conversations and participant observation over several years, Margaret Paxson has uncovered a stunning cosmology that frames both ritual and everyday practices in a contemporary Russian village. Although folklorists and anthropologists of Russia will recognize many of the elements of this world-framing system from nineteenth and twentieth century studies, Paxson’s holistic approach reveals a system of local theory that has both startling coherence and profound application in day-to-day existence. Scholars and students of Russian folklore, literature, culture, and sociology will find great value in this groundbreaking and beautifully written work.”—Nancy Ries, Colgate University

“…a remarkable achievement.… the best ethnographic study of Russian country people available today.”—Caroline Humphrey, Times Literary Supplement

Chapter List

Introduction: Iuliia's Hands

1. Memory's Topography

2. Setting the Village in Space and Time

3. Being "One's Own" in Solovyovo

4. Radiance

5. Wonders

6. Healing

7. The Red Corner

8. Calendars

Afterword: On Lightness and Weight

About Woodrow Wilson Center Press

Woodrow Wilson Center Press publishes books by fellows, other resident scholars, and staff written in substantial part at the Wilson Center.