Global Archive: Russia, Part 1

In our Global Archive series, we get to know the world a little better, one country (or territory) at a time. Today’s installment: Russia!

Looking at Russia | PolyArchive.com

So let’s start at the very beginning. Modern Russia has origins in about the 8th century CE. Vikings (called Varangians by the Greeks) came to rule over the people known as Slavs.

  • Is the word slav related to the word slave? Maybe. Some linguists think they have a shared origin in Latin. Slavic people were often enslaved in the 3rd through 8th centuries. It might also be derived from slovo, “word”–people who spoke the same language or “word” might have called each other Slavs, then other people heard them calling each other Slavs, and then decided that that was their name…

In 862, Rurik, a Varangian prince, came to rule over the area around Lake Ladoga, not too far from modern day St. Petersburg. He founded a new settlement at Novgorod. Rurik’s descendants would be the first dynasty of Russian rulers.

By the 9th century, the Varangians had assembled the Slavic tribes into a loose federation of city-states. At the time it was called “the land of the Rus'”–though linguists argue about what Rus’ means. Nowadays it is often called Kievan Rus’, because Kiev became the most powerful city after Novgorod.

Slavs were pagans and worshiped nature. There were at least 6 major gods representing things like thunder, the sun, and women’s work. In 988, the Grand Prince of Kiev, Vladimir, forcibly began converting people to Orthodox Christianity in order to strengthen his relationship with the Byzantine empire. The people did not totally want to give up some of their pagan traditions though, and for years priests complained about “dvoeverie” or having two faiths.

Learn about Russian history on PolyArchive.com

Kievan Rus’ around 1100 CE.

As Kievan Rus’ eventually began to decline, Mongols started invading. Kievan Rus’ fell in 1240 to the “Mongol Yoke.” The cities of Rus’ had to pay tribute to Mongol leaders. Finally, the princes of the city of Moscow got strong enough to fight back in the 1400s, and by 1480, Moscow rose as the new powerful, independent city. It conquered its neighboring areas.

As Kievan Rus’ eventually began to decline, Mongols started invading. Kievan Rus’ fell in 1240 to the “Mongol Yoke.” The cities of Rus’ had to pay tribute to Mongol leaders. Finally, the princes of the city of Moscow got strong enough to fight back in the 1400s, and by 1480, Moscow rose as the new powerful, independent city. It conquered its neighboring areas.

Learn about Russian history on PolyArchive.com

Moscovy by 1525.

In 1547, Ivan the Fourth, more famously known as Ivan the Terrible, took a new title: The Tsar of All the Russias.

  • Ivan’s name in Russian, Иван Грозный, does not mean “Ivan the Terrible”–it means “Ivan the Terrifying.” He was a scary guy!
Learn about Ivan the Terrible on PolyArchive.com

Tsar Ivan IV as depicted by Sergei Eisenstein in a 1944 biopic.

He conquered the far eastern territories of Kazan and Siberia, and Russia became a multicultural country.

The Romanov dynasty came to power in 1613. They strengthened Russia and kept expanding its borders. By the late 17th century, Russia had absorbed half of Ukraine.

In 1721, Peter I (the Great) named himself emperor. The Russian Empire was born. He built a new capital at St. Petersburg, and led a cultural revolution to modernize Russia. Catherine the Great continued these imperialist ways, and added enormous amounts of land to the empire through conquest and colonization.

Learn about Russia on PolyArchive.com

Russian Empire in 1866. Hey, there’s Alaska!

Eventually, the empire declined. When Russia entered World War I, the high costs of war and dissatisfaction with corruption led the people to unrest. Two revolutions took place in 1917–the first in February forcing Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate in favor of a Provisional Government and eventually the Russian Republic, and another in October seizing power for the Bolshevik party, led by Vladimir Lenin. By January 1918, the Soviet Union, the world’s first Soviet state, was born.

  • The official name was The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics– Союз Советских Социалистических Республик. Soviet refers to the elected council that governed each republic. It is the same word as совет– advice!
  • Here are the 15 republics that were part of the Soviet Union: Russian SFSR, Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR, Uzbek SSR, Kazakh SSR, Georgian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR, Lithuanian SSR, Moldavian SSR, Latvian SSR, Kirghiz SSR, Tajik SSR, Armenian SSR, Turkmen SSR, Estonian SSR (SSR means “Soviet Socialist Republic”)

In order to achieve the monumental goal of modernizing the vast territory of the former Russian empire, the Soviet Union had to be organized. It is no secret that these modernizations, such as the forced collectivization of farmlands, came at an appalling human cost. The Second World War took an enormous toll on the USSR as well; however, the rapid industrialization of the previous decades made for an effective wartime infrastructure.

I think I’ll leave discussion of the rest of the 20th century and beyond for another day, as this post is already getting quite long. To be continued!

 

 

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Detroit’s Heidelberg Project

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
–T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

The Heidelberg Project is an art environment in the heart of Detroit’s east side. The project was started by artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather, Sam Mackey, in 1986. After serving in the Army, Guyton was shocked to see the state of decline in his childhood neighborhood. The project began with painting dots and attaching salvaged objects to houses in a two-block area. Twice, the city of Detroit has demolished houses in the Heidelberg Project: in 1991, under Mayor Coleman Young, three houses were destroyed, and three more were removed in 1999 during Mayor Dennis Archer’s tenure. In 2013 and 2014, more houses fell victim to arson; to date, no arrests have been made.

Some of these photos were taken before the fires, others after. From its beginning, the Heidelberg Project has been fluid and changing, and new installations have appeared since these photos. We urge you to venture out and enjoy this amazing public space yourself! If you’d like to visit, the address is 3600 Heidelberg St, Detroit, MI 48207. It is located not far from Eastern Market, Mount Elliott cemetery, the Packard Plant, Belle Isle, and the Detroit Riverfront, so plan to spend a day in the area.

We Shall Not Cease from Exploration

I love, love, love T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (previously). The words, “We shall not cease from exploration” give me goosebumps every time I read them. How does one take those words to heart, to take a visceral experience and illuminate the everyday tedium with it? To just not cease from exploration? Can it be that simple?

 

The Cave at Lands End - Cabo San Lucas

The Cave at Lands End – Cabo San Lucas (Photo credit: Camerons Personal Page)

 

I don’t know. But here goes.

 

When I started blogging in 2002, I would often list what I was reading/watching/listening to/thinking about. (I’m pretty sure this idea first came from Dooce.) Then I moved from updating an HTML doc on my self-hosted site to a blogging platform (shame: LiveJournal), and the practice kind of tapered off. So without further ado, or adieu, here are some recent discoveries:

 

 

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a reason to put on makeup tomorrow

This place is full of depressed, worn out, and bitter people. It will wear you out and, before you know it, you will be depressed and bitter too. Take a walk around and you will see what I mean. People are untidy and wearing wrinkled clothes, smelly winter coats full of cat hair, long untidy hair and with that charateristic sour face. People have facial hair, nasty moles, crooked teeth, worse so than in one of the slums of London. They also like butter on everything. It is simply unbelievable. It is so expensive that no one has any cash in their pockets which only adds to their misery. Doctors and lawyers live in small old buildings without elevators, central air or parking. It seems like the women don’t have money for make-up, manicures, or perfume.

More golden humor like this here: http://www.bestplaces.net/city/Boston-Massachusetts.aspx