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The Curious Case of the Marginalization or Distortion of Russian and Soviet Environmental History in Global Environmental Histories

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JournalInternational Review of Environmental History
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Aug 2017
DatePublished (current) - 5 Oct 2017
Issue number2
Volume3
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)31-50
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article considers how the environmental history of Russia and the Soviet Union has been marginalized or distorted in works on world or global environmental history. It covers a selection of studies published in English. The article provides insights into how environmental historians of other parts of the globe, who do not read specialist works on the subject or read Russian, perceive ‘Russian environmental history’. The essay opens with a short overview of ‘global environmental history’, and then considers how many global environmental histories have marginalized or excluded Russia. In those that have included it, however, the ‘traditional interpretation’ has been to make a case for Russian exceptionalism with massive, state-sponsored environmental degradation especially during, but not limited to, the Soviet period of Communist Party rule (1917-1991). Over time, more balanced interpretations presenting a rounded view have emerged. In part, these have presented longer-term perspectives, looking back before the Soviet period. An important part has been played by the integration of different voices from specialist Russian environmental historians, in particular Russian scholars. The essay concludes by assessing the prospects for further integration of Russian environmental history into global histories.

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