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581 Ab Imperio, 2/2003 Christian NOACK Thomas Sanders (Ed.), Historiography of Imperial Russia: The Profession and Writing of History in a Multinational State (Armonk N.Y, London: M. E. Sharpe, 1999). 536 pp. Bibliographical notes, index . $39.95. ISBN 1-56324-685-6 (Paperback) Given that available surveys both in the Russian and Western languages are outdated and inadequate , a comprehensive account on Russian historiography has been a desideratum until recently. Thomas Sanders’ efforts to reintroduce the “rarely seen cross-country cousins” [like Solov’ev or Kizevetter] to the students of Imperial Russia can only be warmly welcomed. On some 500 pages “Historiography of Imperial Russia” presents the main evolutions in historical interpretation within the empire from the age of the Enlightenment into the first decades of the Soviet rule, as far as individual fate of the presented scholars inside and outside the USSR are concerned. Some of the material presented was printed before, a larger portion was originally written for this volume. There is no introduction explaining the principles of construction properly speaking, but the presentation is rather self evident: Part 1 covers the general trends in the development of historical consciousness and practice, with a strong emphasis on the academic background. Part 2 introduces individual “pillars” of Imperial Russian and emergent Ukrainian historiography . Part 3 generalises selected nonRussian historical visions – Jewish, Muslim, and, again, Ukrainian. Part 4 returns to the present state of art in studies of the history of Imperial Russia. Thomas Sanders’ very short introductory remarks “A Most Narrow Present” refrain to a brief explication of the historical conditions under which Russian historiography evolved. The essential notions is “maturation”, read: growing profes- 582 Рецензии/Reviews sionalism, resulting in “alienation”, that is the isolation of the intellectual discourse and mass consciousness. Given the historical-political background , the lack of vertical and horizontal integration of the elites and the society as a whole in late Imperial Russia, the missing of a “comprehensive, inclusive national narrative satisfying to the majority of the empire’s inhabitants” (p. 6-9) seems quite understandable, and the lack of a comprehensive overview of competing Imperial and national narratives is certainly deplorable. The inclusion of Ukrainian, Jewish and Muslim (Central Asian modernist) historiography is a first step to fill the gap, others have followed. (cf. Natsional’nye istorii v sovetskom i postsovetskikh gosudarstvakh. Moscow, 1999) The majority of essays in the first part of the volume reflect a considerable interest of Western scholars in the development of the academic milieu against the background of discussions on the possible emergence of Civil (if local) society and publicity in late Imperial Russia. Allison Katsev’s contribution on “M. T. Kachanovskii and Professional Autonomy in Pre-Reform Russia” is a case in point. Exploring the Moscow professor’s habit in public disputes during the 1820’s and 1830’s, he concludes that the quest for independent and critical academic standards under the roof of professional autonomy and the dependence on the State to bolster them were not (yet) the contradictory forces. This clue, however, is hardly surprising in an article following Cynthia Hyla Whittakers systematic inquiry on “The Idea of Autocracy Among Eighteenth-Century Russian Historians.” Whittaker very convincingly shows that precisely the enlightened critical attitude of historians towards autocracy led them to understand this form of government as serving the country’s interests best. As the most effective tool of modernisation and westernisation the idea of autocracy was transformed into a dynamic concept, inspiring subsequent generations of state sponsored reformers well into the 19th century. Thomas Sanders’ “The Third Opponent: Dissertation Defences and the Public Profile of Academic History in Late Imperial Russia” is very closely connected to the mentioned civil society discussions , too. He identifies the public zashchita at least for some periods as the major link between the academic inner circles and what was understood as “society” in the major university cities . Even when access was limited, the admitted public developed “in conjunction to the professoriate an elaborate body of etiquette and expectations concerning disputes.” While socialising effects on the local obshchestva cannot be doubted, Sanders unfortunately 583 Ab Imperio, 2/2003 seems less interested in interpreting these rituals as “ceremonial ordinations of new...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 581-586
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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