The chigirin conspiracy and peasant psychology

Viktor Maul

Abstract


This article considers the psychology of the peasants who took part in the Chigirin conspiracy in Kiev province in the second half of the 19th century. The analysis is based on a variety of sources kept in the State Archive of the Russian Federation. The author focuses on the unique combination of objective and subjective factors reflecting how the peasant movement was divided by national, interclass, and class conflicts, as well as opposing religious views. It was due to these factors that the Chigirin conspiracy acquired its unique character, which can help clarify how traditional psychology works during protests. The author points out the psychological factors which led to a temporary union between the revolutionary Narodniks and the peasant movement as part of the Secret Druzhina: this had the purpose of raising a rebellion and fighting for the redistribution of land. The article describes the reasons for the failure of the self-styled conspiracy organised by the revolutionary Narodniks, who pretended to be the tsar’s commissars and presented the Chigirin peasants with what was claimed to be documents approved by the tsar but were in fact forged papers. The analysis is based on an interdisciplinary approach. Relying on the hermeneutic paradigm in his attempt to interpret events of the past, the author tries to understand the motives behind their protest and reveal some of the general and peculiar components of peasant psychology during the post-reform period. These components were characteristic of Little Russia’s peasants compared to the peasants of other Russian provinces of the time.

Keywords


Chigirin conspiracy; peasant psychology; Narodniks; tsar’s commissars; forged gramota.

References


Chigirin conspiracy; peasant psychology; Narodniks; tsar’s commissars; forged gramota.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.1.220

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