This book is the first to explore the largely unknown world of rural crime and justice in post-emancipation Imperial Russia. Drawing upon previously untapped provincial archives and a wealth of other neglected primary material, Stephen P. Frank offers a major reassessment of the interactions between peasantry and the state in the decades leading up to World War I. Viewing crime and punishment as contested metaphors about social order, his revisionist study documents the varied understandings of criminality and justice that underlay deep conflicts in Russian society, and it contrasts official and elite representations of rural criminality—and of peasants—with the realities of everyday crime at the village level.
Stephen P. Frank is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, and coeditor, with Ben Eklof, of The World of the Russian Peasant: Post-Emancipation Culture and Society (1990) and, with Mark Steinberg, of Cultures in Flux: Lower-Class Values, Practices, and Resistance in Late Imperial Russia (1994).
"The most deeply researched and best written monograph on the pre-revolutionary Russian peasantry in English."—Abbott Gleason, author of Totalitarianism
"None of us has been able to use a particular topic to so fully and broadly illuminate the relationship between the elite and the common people in the Imperial period and also to represent the great watersheds of Russian history in a new and very persuasive way."—Daniel Field, author of Rebels in the Name of the Tsar