Reviews

This article represents an assessment of the state of the field of Slavic studies in Russia and Japan.  The author begins by noting the problem of (relative) isolation for Japan and former Soviet countries.  Both are located on the periphery of European civilisation, and for this and other reasons Japanese and Russian scholars in many cases lack sufficient knowledge of foreign languages.  This has impeded their participation in international scholarship, and Matsuzato contends that works by specialists from Japan and CIS countries often do not rise to international scholarly standards.  Yet developments both in Central Eurasia (the break up of the USSR) and Japan (the appearance of a foreign policy less dependent on the US) have established improved conditions for the elimination of this isolation: new archival access, new opportunities for collaborative research, and the possibility to analyse the socialist countries comparatively with the rest of the world.  Matsuzato concludes with thoughts about how to realise the potential provided at the present moment.  At their core is the idea of resurrecting the single scholarly space of the USSR, in order to address historical issues and engage in comparative analysis; the promotion of two-sided research projects of a theoretical nature; and the advancement of new multi-polar networks “Praising the Initiatives” of the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (Washington, USA) and his own Slavic Research Centre (University of Hokkaido, Japan), the author nonetheless perceives a disturbing weakening of contacts between American, Western European, and East Asian specialists on the CIS and the Baltic region.  In short, this is a thoughtful reflection on the state of the field, and both Matsuzato and the Slavic Research Centre deserve much credit for practicing what they preach.

Paul W. Werth, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
CER: I-1.2.C-83