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Passport, Sovietization, Documentation, Law, Anthropology of Soviet Society
“The Soviet passport,” reads the blurb on the back cover of this original and valuable new book, “is not only a document. The fate of a person, the trajectory of his/her life depended on its presence or lack thereof and on what information it contained.” Despite its exceptional significance as the quintessential “super” document of Soviet power, scholars have devoted remarkably little attention to understanding the passport’s role in historical time. Taking a panoramic view and exploiting a wide array of sources, Al’bert Baiburin of the European University at St. Petersburg, a prolific author of works of ethnography, anthropology, and history and editor-in-chief of Anthropological Forum (Antropologicheskii forum), published in the Russian capital of the north, has produced a remarkably comprehensive book on the Soviet passport and the system surrounding it, which may well be the most multifaceted work on the subject to date. It is an essential starting point for anyone interested in the topic.