[ download Reading ] The Captive and the Gift (Culture and Society after Socialism)Author Bruce Grant – Hometrainer-tests.de

The Caucasus region of Eurasia, wedged in between the Black and Caspian Seas, encompasses the modern territories of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, as well as the troubled republic of Chechnya in southern Russia A site of invasion, conquest, and resistance since the onset of historical record, it has earned a reputation for fearsome violence and isolated mountain redoubts closed to outsiders Over extended efforts to control the Caucasus area, Russians have long mythologized stories of their countrymen taken captive by bands of mountain brigandsIn The Captive and the Gift, the anthropologist Bruce Grant explores the long relationship between Russia and the Caucasus and the means by which sovereignty has been exercised in this contested area Taking his lead from Aleksandr Pushkin spoem Prisoner of the Caucasus, Grant explores the extraordinary resonances of the themes of violence, captivity, and empire in the Caucasus through mythology, poetry, short stories, ballet, opera, and film Grant argues that while the recurring Russian captivity narrative reflected a wide range of political positions, it most often and compellingly suggested a vision of Caucasus peoples as thankless, lawless subjects of empire who were unwilling to acknowledge and accept the gifts of civilization and protection extended by Russian leadersDrawing on years of field and archival research, Grant moves beyond myth and mass culture to suggest how real life Caucasus practices of exchange, by contrast, aimed to control and diminish rather than unleash and increase violence The result is a historical anthropology of sovereign forms that underscores how enduring popular narratives and close readings of ritual practices can shed light on the management of pluralism in long fraught world areas

2 thoughts on “The Captive and the Gift (Culture and Society after Socialism)

  1. Ashlynn Ashlynn says:

    As an undergraduate student with a high interest in Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe I found Bruce Grant s The Captive and the Gift to be an interesting read, but not profound It s a succinct overview of the relationship between Russia and the Caucasus region using two elements the story of the captive and the concept of gift giving This book spans in time from the legend Prometheus to present day, giving it a wide breadth of time and topics to cover Although Grant tries to incorporate history, anthropology, and literary and film analysis, he does so without creating new ideas or groundbreaking statements, rather he reiterates what others before him have said Grant s main argument throughout the book was that the Russians and the Caucasians have never seen eye to eye with each other because of their vastly different cultures and their preconceive notions about each other Throughout the book he aims to cover this significant, complicated period of history and attempts to understand this complex relationship between the Russians and Caucasians on several levels, which leads the book to fall on its face, as it does none Albeit it is an interesting read, and it does give several sources that would lead to a broader understanding, The first element that Grant undertakes is the concept of the gift He does this through a few ways Initially he uses Prometheus as an example, suggesting that Russia, like Prometheus, is selflessly trying to give the Caucasus civilization that they do not have, which is an interesting concept but he doesn t flesh it out Additionally, he brings up an imperial gift that starts with Elizabeth I of England and goes throughout Russian history This gift sets in motion a remarkably effective means of establishing sovereignty over others, hinging on a language of reciprocity that requires little or no actual reception among the conquered, which is all that he states on this 44 He does not further elaborate on this gift leaving it up to the reader to apply it directly to the Caucasus and never understanding what exactly Grant is implying For the second element, captivity stories, he uses narratives and films to construct his argument Of all of the sections of the book this appeared to me to be the most interesting as it promised to discuss the cultural views of Caucasians and Russians towards each other via glimpses through time and through unique mediums that are not often used in history Unfortunately, Grant fumbled on this section by not including his own opinions rather just throwing in quotes from other individuals whether they were critics or historians This was the worst problem of the book, the promise of a new take on the relationship from several unusual angels but no delivery on that promise Overall, it is worth your effort to read this book to get an understanding on the region and obtain some other resources to further your knowledge.

  2. Julie Kron Julie Kron says:

    Russia and the Caucasus have a complicated history Even if someone has not studied the area the conflict can be seen in the news While I would not recommend this book if you have no previous knowledge on the area, it is well written and easy to understand for someone who has some familiarity on the Russian Caucasus relationship Grant s work is analytical and fact based, making it academically challenging to read, but it allows the reader to understand how the longstanding belief of a savage Caucasus colored the area Grant also argues that Russia felt that it was her duty, as an empire, to bestow her gift of civilization upon the savages in the surrounding lands However, Grant maintains that, while Russia said it was giving this gift selflessly, there is no such thing as a selfless gift By giving civilization Russia hopes to also gain the loyalty and the lands of the people they give the gift to Grant says that much of the conflict between Russia and the Caucasus stemmed from the idea of savages and the gift Russia thought it would be easy to conquer the backward savages of the Caucasus, but in fact it was not Russia would not back down and kept trying to give her gift This caused the two peoples relationship to become, as Grant puts it, a knot I liked this analogy, as the two tried to undo the knot, it only got worse, ensnaring Russia and the Caucasus further The captive tales that consist of a lot of literature from Russia about the Caucasus are people trying to justify the long term attempts of conquering and pacifying of the Caucasus by the Russian Empire Overall The Captive and the Gift was a good read and helped me better understand the relationship between Russia and the Caucasus, along with the general relationship between empires and the receivers of their gifts.