Solovyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village
In a small village beside a reed-lined lake in the Russian north, a cluster of farmers has lived for centuries—in the time of tsars and feudal landlords; Bolsheviks and civil wars; collectivization and socialism; perestroika and open markets. Solovyovo is about the place and power of social memory. Based on extensive anthropological fieldwork in that single village, it shows how villagers configure, transmit, and enact social memory through narrative genres, religious practice, social organization, commemoration, and the symbolism of space.
Margaret Paxson relates present–day beliefs, rituals, and practices to the remembered traditions articulated by her informants. She brings to life the everyday social and agricultural routines of the villagers as well as holiday observances, religious practices, cosmology, beliefs and practices surrounding health and illness, the melding of Orthodox and communist traditions and their post–Soviet evolution, and the role of the yearly calendar in regulating village lives. The result is a compelling ethnography of a Russian village, the first of its kind in modern, North American anthropology.
Margaret Paxson is Senior Associate at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She has published articles in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine and the Wilson Quarterly.