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Expertise And The Quest For Rural Modernization In The Russian Empire And The Soviet Union

Katja Bruisch et Klaus Gestwa
p. 7-30

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Translated from German by Bill Templer

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Rural modernization : Better and bitter harvests
Land : The economic resource
Soil : The natural resource
People : The social resource
Expertise : Turning visions into practice
The agrarian paradox : Harvest failure and ecological devastation
Regulating land use
Economic and political interests as determinants of expertise
Conflicts and constraints
Research agenda of the special issue

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The project of modernity is generally associated with industrial and urban contexts. Yet the belief that the world can be transformed through knowledge, technology and reason has left clear marks beyond the classic laboratories of modernity. In rural regions, it manifested itself in the implementation of ambitious agricultural programs and gigantic infrastructure projects. Such endeavors brought about both adventure and risk, promising unseen triumphs and foreshadowing ecological disasters and social upheaval.

Within a few generations the intended consequences of rural modernization and its collateral damages radically transformed agricultural production and the rural way of life. Concealed behind our daily bread today lies a wide range of different forms of expertise. In the 20th century, Frank Uekötter writes, “land has become a key resource in agriculture that has left no area of agronomy untouched, and has even been able to relativize land ownership as a classic social determina...

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Katja Bruisch et Klaus Gestwa, « Expertise And The Quest For Rural Modernization In The Russian Empire And The Soviet Union », Cahiers du monde russe [En ligne], 57/1 | 2016, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2016, Consulté le 23 septembre 2018. URL :

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Katja Bruisch

German Historical Institute Moscow,

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Klaus Gestwa

University of Tuebingen,

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Droits d'auteur

© École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris.

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