By Melissa L. Caldwell
What Muscovites get in a soup kitchen run through the Christian Church of Moscow is whatever way more refined and complex-if no much less priceless and nourishing-than the nutrition that feeds their starvation. In no longer via Bread on my own, the 1st full-length ethnographic research of poverty and social welfare within the postsocialist international, Melissa L. Caldwell makes a speciality of the typical operations and civil transactions at CCM soup kitchens to bare the hot realities, the long-lasting positive aspects, and the fascinating subtext of social aid in Russia this day. In a global nutrition reduction group, Caldwell explores how Muscovites hire a few improvisational strategies to fulfill their fabric wishes. She exhibits how the relationships that increase between individuals of this community-elderly Muscovite recipients, Russian reduction staff, African scholar volunteers, and North American and eu donors and volunteers-provide types of social help which are hugely valued and finally way more vital than fabric assets. In now not by way of Bread on my own we see how the soup kitchens turn into websites of social balance and safe haven for all who have interaction there-not simply people with restricted monetary means-and how Muscovites articulate definitions of starvation and poverty that rely way more at the quantity of one's social contacts than on fabric components. through rethinking the ways that relationships among social and financial practices are theorized-by selecting social family and social prestige as Russia's actual financial currency-this publication demanding situations winning principles concerning the function of the country, the character of poverty and welfare, the feasibility of Western-style reforms, and the primacy of social connections within the day-by-day lives of standard humans in post-Soviet Russia. Illustrations: sixteen b/w images
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Extra info for Not by Bread Alone: Social Support in the New Russia
To compensate for shortages such as these, Muscovites have availed themselves of a familiar repertoire of survival strategies reminiscent of the Soviet era, a practice noted by other ethnographers who have worked in the former Soviet Union (Grant 1995; Ledeneva 1998; Ries 1997; Walker 1998). 36 M A K I NG D O ﬁgure 5. The beautiful GUM department store is now a testament to changes that have taken place in Russia’s commercial sphere. The skill of evaluating and making the best of the circumstances offered by the Soviet—and today Russian—state for one’s personal beneﬁt approximates what Reed-Danahay has termed the art of “making do” (debrouiller) (1996:61–62).
Primarily this means that CCM staff guarantee that the soup kitchens are removed from any spiritual connotations: staff and volunteers cannot offer prayers or hand out religious texts, crosses, or other items. It also means that CCM members are forbidden to use Russian in services or church texts. For their part, CCM staff encourage Russian congregants not to register themselves ofﬁcially on the church roster. Ironically, if this ban was meant to discourage opportunities for social interaction between Russians and non-Russians, it has only prompted creative circumventions and liaisons.
I suggest that another type of exchange network ex- 30 TR ANSNATIONA L SOUP ists, less dependent on power than on local ideas about mutual assistance and generalized reciprocity within the collective, and I explore the tensions that emerge in the soup kitchen between foreign volunteers and donors who coopt these informal exchange relations into systems of charity on the one hand and recipients who attempt to restore balance through reciprocity on the other. This theme of mutual assistance is continued in chapter 4, where I investigate how summer gardens and forests create a space where material and social resources merge.