Since the 18th century, the identification of social “facts” with quantities as opposed to opinion based on qualities, have been part of a large European debate about the value and meaning of statistics in social sciences. This debate took a peculiar social and political significance in post-abolitionist Russia. After recalling the main points of the historiographical debate, this paper will summarize the European debates over social facts and statistics, before moving on to Russia. It will present the debate concerning social and economic statistics among academicians, and show how it resonated in zemstva activities. It will then explain in detail how questionnaires were developed, and how space (land distribution), and time were measured. These insights will help to understand not so much statistical “errors” but rather how different actors (local priests, bureaucrats, statisticians, ethnographers) interacted with the peasantry. Discrepancies, possible convergences and mediation between different notions of time, space, wealth and health were a social and intellectual construct that had major implications for the economic and social policies to be adopted.
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries have been called the “age of dissimulation.” This article argues that the art of dissimulation (ars dissimulandi) was not only a Machiavellian institution for escaping persecution or gaining reward, but also a discursive technique and means of organizing a narrative. Dissimulation is analyzed in the context of rhetoric, especially the art of memory, with special emphasis given to its peculiar manifestation in the writings of early modern Ruthenians (the Orthodox, Protestant, and Greek Catholic residents of the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania living in the areas of modern-day Ukraine and Belarus), including Meletii Smotryts'kyi, Lavrentii and Stefan Zyzanii, and Kyrylo Trankvilion Stavrovets'kyi. The study of dissimulation among Ruthenians reveals a tradition of thinking that balanced absence and presence and engendered the development of a modern art of oblivion that accommodated conflicting ideas and quietly relaxed the hegemony of canonical theology on thought to make room for scientific speculation.
The Bolshevik regime opened the prisons for scientific study and administration, ushering in a vigorous period of criminological investigations during the 1920s. Epitomized by the State Institute for the Study of Crime and the Criminal and a series of regional criminological centers, these efforts sought to unify the human and social sciences (medicine, psychiatry, anthropology, psychology, and sociology) in the search for an “all-sided” understanding of criminality. This article treats Soviet criminological research as a problem in the history of interdisciplinary knowledge. It argues that the boundlessness of Soviet socialism, which made everyone and everything open to scrutiny, created an environment that was conducive to the totalizing potentials already contained in modern criminological discourse. In particular, the State Institute and studies of the criminal personality became spaces that promoted collaboration as an answer to the challenges of modernity. Although the disciplines involved remained largely intact, early Soviet criminology reinforces the fact that the boundaries of scientific knowledge and practice are not natural and fixed but rather the products of history, politics, ideology, culture, individual choices, and other contingencies.
The essay examines the epistemological implications of narrative voice, specifically in the context of Nabokov’s The Gift (and its spin-off, “The Circle”) in relation to the elusive narrator of Dostoevskii’s The Double, with a brief glance at Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. Dostoevskii created a highly elusive narrator who blurs the boundaries of the real and the fantastic; The Gift follows in this tradition, drawing on some of Dostoevskii’s techniques and adding new ones. The two authors take differing approaches to the problem of knowledge, as implied by their narrators: Dostoevskii’s deals primarily with epistemological problems presented by madness, and only by implication with problems of knowledge more generally. Nabokov’s novel, deeply interested in the question of “knowing” the world, creates a narrator who may be identified in (at least) two ways: there is still no consensus on whether Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev is best considered to have authored the entire text before us, or whether, instead, a fictitious author-figure hovers silently above him and gives the novel its final inner shape. This article reviews some of the challenges attending each of the major solutions to date and suggests that, after all, the “open” solution is the most apt, arguing that the novel possesses a new type of narrator that may be called “multistable.” The novel thus performs the difficulty of achieving true knowledge about the world; it does this by highlighting the contingency of even the most basic features of narrative.
We provide a comprehensive summary of what is known to date about the usage of social media during the EuroMaidan protests. We ground this assessment in existing social science theoretical work related to the phenomenon of political protest, suggesting three important mechanisms by which social media could impact protest participation and development: by providing tools for organizing protests; by facilitating the spread of information related to protests; and by building networks that could sustain the protest movement. We then explore the evidence to date in each of these areas. Based on this assessment, we close by proposing a forward looking research agenda that will speak to better understanding of the role of social media in the EuroMaidan protests specifically, the role of social media in protests movements more generally, and how to harness the unique opportunities presented by the fact that much of social media usage is digitally archived and therefore available for scholarly analysis.