Reviews

This article attempts to look at land reform and the fate of complex communes—i.e., communes consisting of several villages—over the longue durée and in the context of non-Russian villages in the Volga-Ural region.  Until now scholars have considered complex communes in Russian-dominated areas but not in multi-ethnic regions.  At the beginning of the twentieth century such communes were frequent among Maris, Chuvash, and Udmurts, but absent among Russians, Tatars, and Mordvins.  The reason for this is not explained.  Interestingly, complex communes could include populations of different ethnic backgrounds, but the author is not interested in providing any information about the manner in which these different ethnic groups related to each other in their management of communal resources.  The Minister of the Interior Petr Stolypin sought to liquidate these communes as being productively inefficient but failed to break them up in the Middle Volga region.  Maris, Chuvash, and Udmurts resisted change.  Their voices, unfortunately, are not heard in this article, which can still be of value for scholars interested in the general history of land tenure before the revolution up to the 1930s.  Complex land communes in the Volga region did not disappear even during the revolutionary period but were dismantled only during the collectivisation campaign of the 1930s.

Agnès Kefeli, Arizona State University, Tempe
CER: I-3.2.C-211