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353 Ab Imperio, 2/2011 Eugene M. AVRUTIN М. Д. Долбилов. Русский край, чужая вера: Этноконфессиональ- ная политика империи в Литве и Белоруссии при Александре II. Москва: Новое литературное обо- зрение, 2010. 999 с., ил. Именной указатель. ISBN: 978-5-86793804 -8. With the annexation of the Baltic provinces and Poland at the end of the eighteenth century, millions of new subjects came under imperial Russian rule. Until the reign of Nicholas I, Russia relied on strategic alliances with local elites and aristocrats to rule a territory that was populated by a diverse number of ethnoconfessional groups. Over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century, for a variety of complicated political, social, and economic reasons, these traditional governing strategies began to gradually shift. In recent years, scholars have produced a wealth of new studies examining how Russian authorities governed its multiconfessional political order. Mikhail Dolbilov’s new book, Russian Land, Foreign Faith: The Ethnoreligious Policy of Empire in Lithuania and Belarus UnderAlexander II, is not only a significant contribution to the literature on empire and imperial encounters. Based on an impressive analysis of archival materials as well as an encyclopedic reading of secondary sources it is also one of the most thoroughly researched and penetrating histories of administrative politics of the western borderland region to appear in the past fifteen years.1 While the problematic of the book (the unresolved tensions between religious toleration and repression ) is straightforward, the analysis and attention to detail is astonishing, at times to a fault. The book is divided into eleven 1 See also Darius Staliunas. Making Russians: Meaning and Practice of Russification in Lithuania and Belarus after 1863. Amsterdam, 2007. 354 Рецензии/Reviews meticulously documented chapters, with an extensive introduction and conclusion. The scholarly apparatus alone – much of which can be read as an extended dialogue – totals 222 dense pages. Focusing on six provinces – Vil’na, Grodno, Kovno, Minsk, Vitebsk, and Mogilev – and three particular ethnoconfessional groups – Uniates, Poles, and Jews – Dolbilov examines how the imperial state minimized internal threats by securing the political loyalty of populations that were considered to be untrustworthy and dangerous. As the imperial Russian state attempted to create a transparent social order, it began to intervene in the day-to-day lives of its subjects on an unprecedented level. The creation of the Department of ReligiousAffairs of Foreign Faiths (which was run under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior) played an important role in this process. The Russian government relied on technologies of rule – conversionary tactics, educational and language policies, and outright confessional repression – utilized by many other colonial regimes to discipline their subjects. The Uniates , who were Eastern Orthodox in rite and Catholic in doctrine, came under attack for, among other things, destabilizing the boundaries of religious identity. Dolbilov’s analysis of the state’s conversionary efforts, of the policies to remove once and for all the Uniate Church from the empire’s borders, picks up where Barbara Skinner’s recent study leaves off.2 This is the most thorough and penetrating analysis in any language of the Uniate problem in nineteenth-century Russia. In the end, as Dolbilov shows, Nicholas I and Alexander II succeeded in their efforts to thoroughly suppress the Uniate church. The bulk of the book concentrates on the Polish question. Poles, as Dolbilov shows, were much more of a problem for the state than either Jews or Uniates or, for that matter , Muslims. Thus, in comparison to Uniates and Jews, the policies directed toward the Polish population were much more conservative and, in many respects, authoritarian. After the January 1863 Uprising, the imperial Russian government implemented several disciplinary measures – closing Catholic churches, denying priests the right of geographic mobility, and limiting various religious rituals and rites – that were meant to decrease the so-called fanaticism of Catholicism. Perhaps the most severe administrative measure was the massive conversion of Catholics that took place in Minsk, Vil’na, and Grodno 2 Barbara Skinner.TheWestern Front of the Eastern Church: Uniate and Orthodox Conflict in 18th Century Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. DeKalb, IL, 2009. 355 Ab Imperio, 2/2011 provinces. At first, confessional transference to Orthodoxy signified complete loyalty to the Russian nation and a complete break with the Polish past. But over the course of the campaigns, it became increasingly evident that a great number of...


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