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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Lend-Lease Photos: A Private Archive
    played by Soviet soldiers and citizens It s a view that is on display for example at the visually rich English language Lend Lease page sponsored by the Russian Air Force ВВС России While post 1991 revelations have provided us with a clearer picture of the material aspects of Lend Lease there hasn t been as much written about Lend Lease as lived experience in the USSR Just what was life like for the Soviet airmen soldiers and civilians who helped transport American supplies to the front lines from isolated outposts in the Far East The subject has garnered some attention as of late at least in Russia The Lend Lease program provided the backdrop for the 2006 motion picture Перегон a detective drama set in 1943 at a transit airfield in the desolate and icy Chukotka peninsula Unfortunately the recently released DVD version is not available with foreign subtitles If you re not willing to drop 22 on the Russian language DVD you can still catch glimpses from the daily life of Soviet lend leasers for free on line Earlier this month a personal collection of more than 150 photographs from the period were uploaded to the Internet The photos belonged to Nikolai Ivanovich Aleksandrov a VVS pilot who was based in the Far Eastern city of Yakutsk during the latter half of the war You ll find plenty of photographs of Lend Lease airplanes including American B 25 Mitchells and P 63 Kingcobras More interesting I think are the fascinating images of the everyday life experienced by fliers support staff and local civilians during the War Although non Russian readers will find themselves at a disadvantage the captions are in Russian the photos are well worth one s time If you re interested in these things I d

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2008/01/29/lend-lease-photos-a-private-archive/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » While I was away…
    world s largest building a mega structure known as Crystal Island The brainchild or hellspawn you pick of the London based architectural firm Foster Partners Crystal Island will enclose nearly 27 million square feet of space within a 1 500 ft tall multi use structure that will feature 900 apartments 3 000 hotel rooms an international school for 500 students cinemas a theater a sports complex and more A 16 500 space underground parking lot is intended to accommodate visitors And there s more As the folks at the architecture and design blog Inhabitat note The building will also incorporate a number of sustainable design features into the overall scheme The exterior facade will be solar responsive and will include solar panels which along with wind turbines will generate electricity for the huge tower Natural ventilation will be provided thanks to numerous strategically placed large atriums The internal environment will also have dynamic enclosure panels slotted into the structural framing that will allow daylight to penetrate deep into the heart of the structure the panels will also be controlled to modify temperature inside the building closed in winter for extra warmth and opened in summer to allow natural ventilation Energy management is at the heart of this structure several on site renewable and low carbon energy generation projects are planned The project has gotten quite a bit of coverage on line among news services and bloggers Although most recognize it as stunning statement of Russia s hydro carbon fueled economy opinion appears divided as to the meaning of the statement Does Crystal Island speak to Russia s resurgence as a cultural and political force It s self confident faith in a radiant future It s penchant for hubristic excess All or none of the above Interestingly few seem to be

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2008/01/24/while-i-was-away/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » What is to be Done?
    of federal support for Russian area studies by better preparing the next generation of scholars to compete in a future that is certain to be different from the past No less significant encouraging young scholars to actively engage non academic audiences would doubtless contribute to raising the profile of the field in the eyes of the reading public In any event why should the most popular books on Russia s past continue to be produced largely by journalists and non academic historians Another way in which the next generation of researchers may accomplish these tasks is by devoting more attention to a subfield too long overlooked by western scholars of Russia the history of Russian technology and science Despite its obvious significance in explaining the causes behind the Soviet Union s collapse and its direct relevance to informing policy decisions regarding current and future developments in Russia the history of technology and science has received scant attention in the field s prevailing literature Historians of science and technology are a distinct minority within AAASS 1 Worse still they have been poorly represented in the leading journals devoted to Russian history and area studies Since 1999 Russian Review has published only two articles related to the history of Russian technology and science Slavic Review has managed three 2 While interpretations emphasizing politics social movements and cultural gender and ethnic identities have all enjoyed their heyday during the last three decades arguably the most important approach to understanding why both the Imperial and Soviet paths to modernity failed has gone largely unexplored This is not to say that historians of Russian technology and science have failed to achieve distinction in their own right Quite the contrary During the 1970s and 1980s Loren Graham Alexander Vucinich and the late Kendall Bailes produced a series of groundbreaking studies that drew attention to the important roles played by cultural political and social contexts in shaping the nature and direction of Russian scientific and technological development Their writings have since attained canonical status among interested scholars 3 While Graham and Vucinich continued to influence the field a second wave of historians followed in their wake Along with David Holloway s highly regarded history of the Soviet atomic project Douglas R Weiner s studies of Soviet conservation Joseph Bradley s work on the Imperial Russian armaments industry Jonathan Coopersmith s investigation of the origins of Russian electrification and Anthony Heywood s account of the Soviet railroad industry demonstrated the many ways in which the history of science and technology sheds vital insight on such central concerns as diplomacy and foreign relations technology transfer the emergence of civil society modernization and economic development Although Holloway s book was awarded two prizes from AAASS the broader contributions of these historians have drawn scant attention from the field as a whole While Kritika Russian Review and Slavic Review and have recently dedicated special issues to everything from political violence and conservatism to diaries tourism and in an upcoming volume the

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2007/12/23/what-is-to-be-done/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Revenge of the Nationalities?
    for the Advancement of Slavic Studies AAASS the nation s leading scholarly organization for what else advancing scholarship in Slavic related fields Originally founded in the late 1940s for the purpose of publishing an American journal pertaining to Slavic issues Slavic Review the association subsequently became a membership organization in 1960 Bolstered by widespread interest in the USSR and indirectly underwritten by the Title VI funds that flowed into academia during the height of the Cold War AAASS grew in the decades that followed into the premier private organization devoted to Russia Eastern Europe and by default regions now identified as the former Soviet Union An interdisciplinary association from its inception AAASS and its many American regional affiliates attracted members from across the humanities and social sciences as well as non academics affiliated with government the military and to a lesser extent the private sector More recently AASSS has fallen on hard times During roughly the same period in which CESS and ASN logged impressive growth AAASS registered considerable decline Between 1997 and 2007 the association saw its membership shrink from 3 610 to 2 640 4 Standard disclaimers that correlation does not equal causality notwithstanding the concomitant expansion of organizations such as ASN and CESS coupled with a more than 25 drop off in the ranks of AAASS suggests that Slavic area studies and by extension Russian history has indeed been adversely effected by rising interest in the non Russian periphery 5 At the very least the sea change underway in the field appears to have produced an identity crisis of sort for AAASS At the organization s annual conference in 2006 a special Presidential Panel convened to consider whether the organization should be renamed in a fashion that would more appropriately fit the times 6 Among the several suggestions floated by the panel s participants and audience members the descriptor Eurasian intended to denote the society s inclusion of Central Asia and the Caucasus figured most prominently At the time of this writing the jury is still out on the fate of AAASS Whatever the result one need not be a believer in the post modern nostrum language power to recognize in the debate over the AAASS moniker an admission that power is drifting away from Russia and the Slavic world Far more disconcerting than the growth of newer societies and the potential re branding of older ones has been the relative decline in funding opportunities for graduate training and scholarly research in Russian history In recent years funding agencies long relied upon by Russian historians have increasingly dispersed growing portions of their shrinking monies to projects involving Central Asia and the Caucasus An important case in point is the International Research and Exchanges Board IREX a non profit organization founded in 1968 for the specific purpose of coordinating scholarly exchanges with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe Through its Short Term Travel Grant STG program and three to nine month Individual Advanced Research Opportunity IARO fellowships IREX has long been the principal funding agency for doctoral students and post doctoral researchers in Russian history and area studies No longer devoted solely to facilitating scholarly exchanges to Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union IREX now supports programs in the Middle East North Africa and Asia Today the organization has offices and representatives in over 125 cities of Europe and Eurasia administering programs to advance education support independent media promote Internet development and build civil society Even though IREX remains an essential resource for scholars and students of Russia as the organization has revised its mandate to include broader world regions so too has it shifted its attention within the region known as the former Soviet Union away from Russia proper to the Caucasus and Central Asia As the records available through the IREX web site reveal recent years have seen a growing percentage of IREX fellowships and grants awarded to projects devoted in whole or in part to Central Asia and the Caucasus Of the 107 IARO fellowships dispensed over the three year period from 1999 2000 to 2001 2002 40 awards or 37 were designated for projects with a Russian only focus while only 12 grants 11 went to projects concentrating on Central Asia or the Caucasus The most recent five year period 2002 2003 to 2006 2007 reflects a growing emphasis on the borderlands as the number of funded projects involving Central Asia and the Caucasus exceeded those focusing on Russia Of the total 146 IARO fellowships awarded by IREX during this period 33 or 22 went to Russian projects as opposed to 40 27 for those focusing on Central Asia Caucasus The same general trend applies to the IREX Short Term Travel Grant program Where the 2001 competition cycle saw 18 of the 42 43 available grants earmarked for Russian projects as opposed to only 4 9 for Central Asia and the Caucasus by 2005 the gap had narrowed to 31 for Russia 9 grants compared to 17 5 grants for Central Asia and the Caucasus These trends continued in the following two grant cycles Of the 26 grants awarded in 2006 an equal number 6 or 23 went to borderlands and Russian projects The following year 4 borderlands projects were funded 17 as opposed to only 3 13 on Russian topics In other words amid a significant decline in the total number of STGs available 42 in 2001 versus only 23 in 2007 the absolute number of awards earmarked for Central Asia and the Caucasus remained the same while the number of STGs for research in Russia has fallen more than 80 It is likewise worth noting that as IREX support for non Russian projects has increased the number of grants awarded for the study of history all regions has declined significantly In each of the three years between 2000 and 2002 IREX awarded STGs to 10 applicants in history During the following five years historians accounted for only 3 2003 8 2004

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2007/12/20/revenge-of-the-nationalities/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » From under the Rubble
    The Soviet Tragedy was enthusiastically praised in the prestigious non academic venues that reviewed the book 9 Whatever the merits of Malia s polemical account of socialism in Russia concurrent developments in the changing field were beginning to prove him right in one significant regard That I word as one of my revisionist colleagues once referred to it was returning to prominence though not quite dominance in the study of Russian history Even before the ink had dried on Malia s page proofs a new generation of historians hard at work in Russia s freshly opened archives was rediscovering the centrality of ideology and politics to the history of twentieth century Russia Among the more notable new works in this regard was Stephen Kotkin s Magnetic Mountain A sweeping micro history of Magnitogorsk the Stalinist era planned city intended to serve as the center of Soviet iron processing and industrial development Magnetic Mountain employed a wide array of new sources unearthed in recently opened regional archives together with local and factory newspapers unpublished histories and oral interviews in depicting the origins and nature of Stalinism as a civilization Borrowing heavily from concepts first developed by Foucault to whom the book was dedicated Kotkin set out to describe the vision and reality of Soviet daily life by applying Foucault s notion of subjectivity the process by which individuals are made and also make themselves subjects of the state to an empirical study of local citizens accommodation and resistance to the mechanisms of Soviet power 22 23 Kotkin divided his monograph into two sections The first titled Grand Strategies of the State outlined the broader process of Soviet industrialization describing the manner in which the Magnitogorsk complex was planned constructed populated and managed The second section on The Little Tactics of the Habitat examined such workaday issues as food and housing shop floor conditions and the administration of justice from the standpoint of citizens living and laboring within the context of the state s grand design Together the two sections vividly portrayed the vision and reality of socialist construction illustrating the process through which Bolshevik values behaviors and beliefs were articulated in the Party s official ideology only to be resisted adapted or accepted by the men and women living in the shadow of the Magnetic Mountain Although several reviewers correctly observed that the book s broader arguments regarding the Stalinist system s Enlightenment roots and theocratic structure were hardly original Kotkin s reassertion of the importance of ideology to understanding the Soviet experience resonated with scholars in ways that Malia s polemic had not Ideology has since figured prominently in other studies of the Soviet past In his award winning monograph Time and Revolution Marxism and the Design of Soviet Institutions Stephen Hanson explained the rise and decline of the Soviet Union as resulting from a peculiar vision of time grounded in Marxist ideology Arguing that Marx s theory and Soviet practice were characterized by a paradoxical charismatic rational teleology that saw time as a force to be transcended through time disciplined revolutionary action 131 32 Hanson proposed that the history of the USSR could be understood as the product of the Soviet leadership s inability to make human relationships and institutions conform with their broader ideas regarding the nature and process of development Ideology played a similarly consequential role in David Brandenberger s study National Bolshevism Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of National Identity 1931 1956 which explored the myriad ways in which Russian nationalist elements formed a constituent part of official Soviet propaganda According to Brandenberger Soviet officials undertook an ideological about face in the mid 1930s abandoning their previous idealistic efforts to mobilize public support through exhortations of proletarian internationalism in favor of a strident pragmatic and more successful emphasis on Russian nationalism Ultimately Brandenberger concluded the emergence of russocentric etatism as a chief feature of Stalinist era ideology unintentionally laid the groundwork for the emergence of a modern Russian identity The reincorporation of ideology into the study of the Soviet past was only one of the many ways in which the archival revolution of the early 1990s reinvigorated Russian history Like their more politically inclined colleagues social historians also benefited from access to new sources and documents Particularly valuable to scholars of Soviet society were svodki informational summaries produced by the Party and secret police organs which detailed the attitudes and moods of the populace Along with svodki vast quantities of personal complaints letters denunciations private diaries and other previously inaccessible items were disgorged from the archives and made available for researchers use Armed with this new cache of materials documenting the interactions of Soviet citizens with the organs of the party state researchers expanded considerably understanding of the social and institutional mechanisms that shaped the lives of Soviet citizens during the 1920s and 1930s The result was a number of innovative works devoted to such topics as daily life popular opinion public demonstrations and social ostracism 10 The same was true for specialists focusing on the armed forces Largely ignored amid the totalitarian revisionist cacophany of the 1970s and 1980s Russian military and diplomatic history has experienced a renaissance of sorts since the mid 1990s thanks to the emergence of a small but talented group of young scholars Among this cohort David Shimmelpenninck van der Oye Joshua Sanborn Eric Lohr and Jonathan Grant contributed important new books on respectively the intellectual origins of the Russo Japanese War social mobilization during World War I wartime treatment of non Russian minorities and the Putilov armaments company Meanwhile senior historian Peter Gatrell has written extensively on the period of the Great War producing three significant monographs on the relationship between tsarist state and industry wartime refugees and the socio economic history of Russian involvement in the conflict Military historians of the Soviet period have proven every bit as productive as new archival discoveries and a few sensationalist works encouraged work in a subfield already popular with the broader

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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Avia-Corner
    grown to over 165 today Discussion 2 Scholarship at the Crossroads December 9 2007 10 45 pm Filed in Avia Corner Historians Historiography Sources Cross posted from The Russian Front About this time last year The Journal of the Historical Society published an essay of mine devoted to recent trends in the field of Russian history Although the article Scholarship at the Crossroads The Past Present and Possible Future of Russian History in America was commissioned by the Journal s editor George Huppert for the purpose of introducing non Russian historians and general readers to developments in the field I believe that many of the issues raised in the piece may be of interest to specialists as well Beginning late tomorrow and continuing over the course of the next ten days or so I will post a series of installments containing the main text of the JHS essay I welcome TRF readers to comment on the points made in the article or at least to think about the developments that the article addresses The TRF version of Scholarship at the Crossroads does differ from the original in several respects For example I have eliminated many of the footnotes appearing in the journal article by providing direct links to works mentioned in the text In other cases I have updated or added information to reflect more recent events Note The definitive version of this essay is located at www blackwell synergy com To access it click here Discussion 4 Air Crew Ekipazh November 28 2007 12 00 pm Filed in Avia Corner Films Reviews As far as decades go the 1970s were a pretty miserable time for the United States From the country s humiliating exit from Viet Nam through the Watergate scandal and OPEC embargo to stagflation economic malaise disco leisure suits and the Iranian hostage crisis the years between 1970 and 1979 were on the whole rather depressing Even America s national pastime suffered embarassment and disgrace Given the zeitgeist of the seventies it s probably no coincidence that the disastrous decade coincided with the golden age of the disaster film Movies about the masses facing impending doom ruled at the box office Just a quick survey of the Internet Movie Database IMDb turns up more than two dozen such films from award winning box office successes like Earthquake 1974 The Poseidon Adventure 1972 and The Towering Inferno 1974 to less well known yarns The Cassandra Crossing 1976 City on Fire 1979 made for TV thrillers Heat Wave 1974 The Day the Earth Moved 1974 Flood 1976 and one infamous B movie flop Among the many disaster films that graced the silver screen movies about airplanes were particularly prominent Much of the reason had to with the immense success of the decade s first smash hit Airport 1970 which pulled in a then whopping 45 million in receipts Airport s success led to a string of lesser sequels Airport 1975 Airport 77 and the abysmal The Concorde Airport 1979

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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Citizen! The Society of Friends of the Air Fleet calls you to its ranks!
    Friends of the Air Fleet ODVF was founded in the spring of 1923 to enlist citizens in the task of developing Red aviation This poster was one of the first produced by ODVF in support of its initial Campaign to Build the Red Air Fleet The airplanes depicted circling the globe are WW I era British DeHavilland DH 4s Licensed for production by the Imperial Russian government in 1917 the

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  • Dictatorship of the Air » If each citizen donated a single kopeck…
    Enroll in the Society of Friends of the Air Fleet c 1923 Appearing at a time when the country s economic and industrial infrastructure had collapsed from the effects of war revolution and civil war this poster was one of the first to make explicit the importance of industrial capacity to Soviet Russia s future emergence as an aviation power Note the visual contrast between the rural countryside represented by

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