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Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is a gripping account of the developmental dynamics involved in the collapse of Soviet socialism. Fusing a narrative of human agency to his critical discussion of structural forces, Georgi M. Derluguian reconstructs from firsthand accounts the life story of Musa Shanib—who from a small town in the Caucasus grew to be a prominent le Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is a gripping account of the developmental dynamics involved in the collapse of Soviet socialism. Fusing a narrative of human agency to his critical discussion of structural forces, Georgi M. Derluguian reconstructs from firsthand accounts the life story of Musa Shanib—who from a small town in the Caucasus grew to be a prominent leader in the Chechen revolution. In his examination of Shanib and his keen interest in the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, Derluguian discerns how and why this dissident intellectual became a nationalist warlord. Exploring globalization, democratization, ethnic identity, and international terrorism, Derluguian contextualizes Shanib's personal trajectory from de-Stalinization through the nationalist rebellions of the 1990s, to the recent rise in Islamic militancy. He masterfully reveals not only how external economic and political forces affect the former Soviet republics but how those forces are in turn shaped by the individuals, institutions, ethnicities, and social networks that make up those societies. Drawing on the work of Charles Tilly, Immanuel Wallerstein, and, of course, Bourdieu, Derluguian's explanation of the recent ethnic wars and terrorist acts in Russia succeeds in illuminating the role of human agency in shaping history.


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Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is a gripping account of the developmental dynamics involved in the collapse of Soviet socialism. Fusing a narrative of human agency to his critical discussion of structural forces, Georgi M. Derluguian reconstructs from firsthand accounts the life story of Musa Shanib—who from a small town in the Caucasus grew to be a prominent le Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus is a gripping account of the developmental dynamics involved in the collapse of Soviet socialism. Fusing a narrative of human agency to his critical discussion of structural forces, Georgi M. Derluguian reconstructs from firsthand accounts the life story of Musa Shanib—who from a small town in the Caucasus grew to be a prominent leader in the Chechen revolution. In his examination of Shanib and his keen interest in the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, Derluguian discerns how and why this dissident intellectual became a nationalist warlord. Exploring globalization, democratization, ethnic identity, and international terrorism, Derluguian contextualizes Shanib's personal trajectory from de-Stalinization through the nationalist rebellions of the 1990s, to the recent rise in Islamic militancy. He masterfully reveals not only how external economic and political forces affect the former Soviet republics but how those forces are in turn shaped by the individuals, institutions, ethnicities, and social networks that make up those societies. Drawing on the work of Charles Tilly, Immanuel Wallerstein, and, of course, Bourdieu, Derluguian's explanation of the recent ethnic wars and terrorist acts in Russia succeeds in illuminating the role of human agency in shaping history.

30 review for Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-System Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lukáš

    While I am not the greatest fan of Bourdieuesque style of theorizing with its not always convincing style of materialist reasoning and a somewhat clumsy and un-reflexive direction of his 'will to know', I certainly greatly admire Derluguian's ceasless efforts at bridging a micro-historical and a micro-sociological fieldwork and constructing a larger structural view of the heterogeneities that accompanied the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. This generally runs through the main theme of the boo While I am not the greatest fan of Bourdieuesque style of theorizing with its not always convincing style of materialist reasoning and a somewhat clumsy and un-reflexive direction of his 'will to know', I certainly greatly admire Derluguian's ceasless efforts at bridging a micro-historical and a micro-sociological fieldwork and constructing a larger structural view of the heterogeneities that accompanied the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. This generally runs through the main theme of the book, of how Musa Shahib, a Kharadino-Balkar intellectual, admirer of Bourdieu's sociology, who has, through the collapse of the Soviet Union, turned into a kind of a local nationalist warlord lite. Derluguian puts together histories, comparisons, descriptions and criticisms of the complex interplay of the class structures, government bureaucracy (nomenklatura) and intellectuals to dissect the historical trends of post-Stalinist 'liberalization' under Khruschev, the conservative contraction under Brezhnev and the continuation of the socially demanded liberalization under Gorbachev, culminating in the troublesome breakdown of the USSR, accompanied with the globalizing forces that turned many existing and working social structures into dust. This is a book of great density, conceptual sophistication and erudition, and although at times I wondered whether on this level, it is not a bit over-done with some of the author's not always-clear intentions, it seems to me as a worthy look into the political economy and the social structures of the post-Soviet world, which, I hope, will find interests of people interested in other regions than just the Caucasus.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thijs

    It's a very odd feeling that I finished reading this book on the day that its main protagonist, Musa/Yuri Shanibov passed away. I started reading excerpts from this book more than a year ago, but yesterday I finally finished. It's one of the best sociological works I've ever read: ethnographically rich, historically informed, theoretically profound, and written in an unpretentious style. My main complaint with the book is that Derluguian didn't write any other, similar monograph-length work. I'l It's a very odd feeling that I finished reading this book on the day that its main protagonist, Musa/Yuri Shanibov passed away. I started reading excerpts from this book more than a year ago, but yesterday I finally finished. It's one of the best sociological works I've ever read: ethnographically rich, historically informed, theoretically profound, and written in an unpretentious style. My main complaint with the book is that Derluguian didn't write any other, similar monograph-length work. I'll write a longer review elsewhere but for now it suffices to say that this is a must-read for anyone interested in global sociology with a non-Western focus. It's at the same time a great work about the Caucasus, as it is a book about the transformation of the global order over the last century. My only minor complaint, if I really have to think of one, is that it is quite a long, dense book so that, as with any work that is both theoretical and historical, you sometimes forget what the overarching argument is as you are captivated by an anecdote or a historical side-alley.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Zabuzova

    Взяти хаотичний стиль Бурдьйо і сенс закопати його так глибоко в евристичеу історичну аналітику, що моєї підготовки не стало вподобати твір. Загальне враження - можно вывести мальчика из СССР, но нельзя вывести СССР

  4. 5 out of 5

    John A.

    Beyond a doubt the best book written on the Caucasus, and—perhaps—the fall of the Soviet Union.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Fantastic, wide-ranging look at why the Soviet Union fell apart. The theory is accessible even to someone as theory-resistant as I am.

  6. 5 out of 5

    David Stein

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dick Tinto

  8. 5 out of 5

    Denis

  9. 4 out of 5

    MR J E BARFORD

  10. 4 out of 5

    Walter Wiseman

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nairi

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aart

  13. 5 out of 5

    Henri Troppmann

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allister

  15. 4 out of 5

    Salvatore

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexey

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  18. 5 out of 5

    Agnese Gustaite

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ггг Ггг

  20. 5 out of 5

    Owen Hatherley

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Mackay

  22. 4 out of 5

    Myrthe

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ekin Ozbakkaloglu

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robert Bennett

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Luo

  26. 4 out of 5

    Uliana

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tetiana

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eva

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ezra Raez

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