Synopses & Reviews
Dacha Idylls is a lively account of dacha life and how Russians experience this deeply rooted tradition of the summer cottage amid the changing cultural, economic, and political landscape of postsocialist Russia. Simultaneously beloved and reviled, dachas wield a power that makes owning and caring for them an essential part of life. In this book, Melissa L. Caldwell captures the dachaand#8217;s abiding traditions and demonstrates why Russians insist that these dwellings are key to understanding Russian life. She draws on literary texts as well as observations from dacha dwellers to highlight this enduring fact of Russian culture at a time when so much has changed. Caldwell presents the dacha world in all its richness and complexityand#151;a and#147;good lifeand#8221; that draws inspiration from the natural environment in which it is situated.
and#8220;[Caldwelland#8217;s] insight into Russian life is impressive. . . . The book undeniably deserves to be read and appreciated.and#8221;
"Anyone who has spent time in Russia knows the importance of 'going to the dacha.' In this ethnography Melissa Caldwell reveals the mystique of rural life by exploring the social nature of gardening and making food, and Russian relationships to the land. It's truly an innovative study!"and#151;Catherine Wanner, author of Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism
"In this engaging ethnography, Melissa Caldwell brilliantly demonstrates what is peculiarly Russian about the dacha, long an object of literary and nostalgic imagining, while simultaneously situating the 'vacation cottage' within larger histories of leisure, consumption, home, and post-socialist transition. A must-read for scholars of Russia or tourism."and#151;Pamela Ballinger, author of History in Exile: Memory and Identity at the Borders of the Balkans
About the Author
Melissa L. Caldwell is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Not by Bread Alone: Social Support in the New Russia (UC Press).
Table of Contents
Note on Transliteration and Pronunciation
1. Dacha Enchantments
2. Intimate Irritations: Living with Chekhov at the Dacha
3. The Pleasure of Pain: Gardening for the Soul
4. Natural Foods: Feeding the Body and Nourishing the Soul
5. Disappearing Dachniki
6. Dacha Democracy: Building Civil Society in Out-of-the-Way Places
7. The Daily Dacha Soap Opera