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Russian Empire

Space, People, Power, 1700-1930

Edited by Jane Burbank, Mark von Hagen, and Anatolyi Remnev

Publication Year: 2007

Russian Empire offers new perspectives on the strategies of imperial rule pursued by rulers, officials, scholars, and subjects of the Russian empire. An international team of scholars explores the connections between Russia's expansion over vast territories occupied by people of many ethnicities, religions, and political experiences and the evolution of imperial administration and vision. The fresh research reflected in this innovative volume reveals the ways in which the realities of sustaining imperial power in a multiethnic, multiconfessional, scattered, and diffuse environment inspired political imaginaries and set limits on what the state could accomplish. Taken together, these rich essays provide important new frameworks for understanding Russia's imperial geography of power.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian and East European Studies


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pp. vii-ix

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

This project was conceived at Sobinka, a holiday camp on the outskirts of Vladimir in 1996. It spent a second summer idyll near Iaroslavl’, took a winter break at Sestroretsk and another in New York, attained adolescence in Siberia (Omsk), and came to maturity in Samara. The project had generous...

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Coming into the Territory: Uncertainty and Empire

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pp. 1-30

Following in the often unacknowledged footsteps of nineteenth-century Romantic nationalists, scholars and publicists of the last ¤fty years generally have condemned empires to the dustbin of history. In their analyses of past, present, and future political transformations, social scientists, and even more critically, policymakers, describe a historical trajectory from...

part one: space

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pp. 31

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1. Imperial Space: Territorial Thought and Practice in theEighteenth Century

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pp. 33-66

In 1647, Tsar Aleksei learned from his of¤cials in northeastern Siberia that a large island called New Land (Novaia Zemlia) had been discovered in the Arctic Ocean near the mouth of the Kolyma river. The tsar promptly ordered his servitors to determine whether the island contained any walrus...

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2. The “Great Circle” of Interior Russia: Representations ofthe Imperial Center in the Nineteenth and Early TwentiethCenturies

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pp. 67-93

For scholars interested in the regional structure and symbolic geography of the old tsarist empire, the question of what constituted the imperial core—the territory that represented the empire’s center of gravity—is obviously...

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3. How Bashkiria Became Part of European Russia,1762–1881

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pp. 94-124

The perception that the Ural mountains divided the Russian empire into European and Asian parts has a long history. As Mark Bassin’s work has shown, the conception of the Urals as a continental boundary, ¤rst advocated by historian and geographer Vasilii N. Tatishchev in the 1730s, became...

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4. Mapping the Empire’s Economic Regions from the Nineteenthto the Early Twentieth Century

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pp. 125-138

The history of regionalization in Russia is long, extending back to the empire’s very foundation. Existence in a constantly expanding territory dictated the need to ¤nd an effective mode of administration for the state and its population. The results to a large extent depended on the availability...

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5. State and Evolution: Ethnographic Knowledge, EconomicExpediency, and the Making of the USSR, 1917–1924

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pp. 139-166

Between 1917 and 1924 the Red Army pushed its way across thousands of miles, pro-Bolshevik forces waged successful uprisings in the peripheries, and the Soviet government marked the revolution’s territorial gains with new borders and an of¤cial constitution. The Bolsheviks achieved the physical reconquest of most territories of the Russian empire, but the formation...

part two: people

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pp. 167

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6. Changing Conceptions of Difference, Assimilation, and Faith inthe Volga-Kama Region, 1740–1870

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pp. 169-214

With its broad range of peoples, languages, and religions, the Russian empire was, by any standard, a diverse polity. Yet the ways in which that diversity was conceptualized and interpreted were far from consistent over the course of Russia’s history. The purpose of this chapter is to trace a...

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7. Thinking Like an Empire: Estate, Law, and Rights in the EarlyTwentieth Century

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pp. 196-217

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Russian emperors and ruling elites strove to apply contemporary European strategies of governance to their expansive realm. Attempting to standardize authority within Russia’s...

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8. From Region to Nation: The Don Cossacks 1870–1920

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pp. 218-238

The striking biblical metaphor “®esh of one ®esh, bone of one bone”1 aptly expresses the widely held belief about the Cossacks2 before and after the 1917 revolution concerning their familial but dependent relationship with the Great Russian people and the Russian state. According to the point of view of the commentator, the emphasis could be on either...

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9. Bandits and the State: Designing a “Traditional” Culture ofViolence in the Russian Caucasus

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pp. 239-267

This chapter explores the culture of violence that emerged among the highlanders of the Caucasus during the state reforms in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By “culture of violence” I mean a set of practices— from blood revenge and the seizure of a debtor’s property (ishkil ) to...

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10. Representing “Primitive Communists”: Ethnographic andPolitical Authority in Early Soviet Siberia

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pp. 268-292

Let me begin with a photograph (Figure 10.1) taken in 1926 on the banks of the Podkamennaia Tunguska, a northern tributary of the Yenisei River basin. The photograph, taken by ethnographer and reformer Innokentii Suslov, bears the following caption: “All participants of the communal...

part three: institutions

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pp. 293

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11. From the Zloty to the Ruble: The Kingdom of Poland in theMonetary Politics of the Russian Empire

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pp. 295-319

The study of the rise, development, and fall of empires is an inexhaustible project. Even as researchers continue to adopt new approaches and raise new questions about the organization and functioning of imperial states, the number of unresolved issues and unexplored topics barely seems to...

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12. The Muslim Question in Late Imperial Russia

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pp. 320-347

In the second half of the nineteenth century a series of “questions” came to occupy a prominent place in the Russian political lexicon. While some questions concerned a political and social issue across the empire as a whole (for example, the woman question), others, such as the Jewish question...

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13. The Zemstvo Reform, the Cossacks, and Administrative Policyon the Don, 1864–1882

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pp. 348-365

The implementation of the Manifesto of February 19, 1861, entailed changes in the administration of the Russian empire, setting off, in the expression of B. G. Litvak, “a chain reaction of reform.”1 The introduction of the zemstvo represented one of the links in this chain. The goal of the...

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14. Peoples, Regions, and Electoral Politics: The State Dumas andthe Constitution of New National Elites

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pp. 366-397

The Russian empire at the beginning of the twentieth century constituted a unique and multidimensional system of “center and regions.” For a scholarly understanding of this system it is important to consider it from various points of view—in the context of power and of political relations...

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15. The Provisional Government and Finland: Russian Democracyand Finnish Nationalism in Search of Peaceful Coexistence

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pp. 398-422

The period between the February and October revolutions of 1917 was one of the most tense and dramatic times in the history of Russian-Finnish relations. During these few months the Provisional Government, a new political entity that had appeared on the ruins of the autocracy, undertook a...

part four: designs

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pp. 423

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16. Siberia and the Russian Far East in the Imperial Geographyof Power

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pp. 425-454

By virtue of its complexity and diversity, the Russian empire requires a regional analysis. Individual regions with distinctive characteristics (e.g., the t ime of their entry into the empire, geographical, natural, and c limatic factors, distance from the imperial center, ethnic and confessional...

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17. Imperial Political Culture and Modernization in the Second Halfof the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 455-493

The new phase of modernization Russia is experiencing today once again raises the question of modernization’s impact on the essential characteristics of Russian civilization, including what may be called Russia’s “paradigm of statehood”—that is, the complex...

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18. Federalisms and Pan-movements: Re-imagining Empire

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pp. 494-510

A few years ago I sketched what I hoped might be a new approach to understanding how the Russian empire (and the Soviet Union) functioned and which I labeled federalism, with its accompanying regionalisms and pan-movements, especially Pan-Slavism and Pan-Turkism. I argued that....

List of Contributors

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pp. 510-514


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pp. 515-538

E-ISBN-13: 9780253117069
E-ISBN-10: 0253117062
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253349019

Page Count: 560
Illustrations: 3 b&w photos, 7 maps
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian and East European Studies