Protection plots in Stalin’s day

Abstract from: ‘Everyday Environmentalism: The Practice, Politics, and Nature of Subsidiary Farming in Stalin’s Lithuania’. By Diana Mycinte

Subsidiary farms in Soviet Lithuania during the years of intense collectivization and political repressions between 1948-1953 were a locus through which local peasants carved out a niche in the territorial, social, and political structures of the Soviet state.

In addition to the direct requisition requests from the Soviet government for three-quarters of everything they grew on the subsidiary plots, demands were also made on the peasants by the armed resistance troops located in the forests. Some sources suggest that until 1956 the Lithuanian forests hid up to 90,000 of the Lithuanian Freedom Army and their associates who were fed, clothed, and provided other necessities by collecting what they need from the impoverished peasants.

Small, semi-private land allotments are strange imbroglios in the history of collectivized agriculture in the Soviet Union. From an ideological stand-point, they are the remnants of the bourgeois regime that are not amenable to planning and, therefore, always to be condemned, attacked, and closely supervised.

While often overlooked in the analyses of Soviet environmental and agricultural histories, these land plots played a central role in the peasants’ daily lives by providing them with food and a source of social power in the villages, as well as by serving as sites through which peasants could claim a place in the Soviet state.

Because the peasants’ physical survival in this period in Lithuania depended on the harvests from the subsidiary farms and because local officials defined the peasants as ideologically malleable and suspicious “elements” to be monitored, they constructed themselves primarily as subjects of land and nature, rather than as subjects of the Soviet state.

Full article: ‘Everyday Environmentalism: The Practice, Politics, and Nature of Subsidiary Farming in Stalin’s Lithuania’

Author: Diana Mincyte

Source: Slavic Review, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Spring, 2009), pp. 31-49

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