In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

289 Ab Imperio, 1/2008 Steven SEEGEL Vytautas Petronis, Constructing Lithuania: Ethnic Mapping in Tsarist Russia, ca. 1800-1914 (Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2007). 309 pp. (=Stockholm Studies in History, 91; Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, 21). ISBN: 9-789185445 -79-0. More than ornaments to supplement historical narratives, maps are valuable tools of statecraft and nation-building in contested borderlands . Constructing Lithuania, Vytautas Petronis’dissertation published by Stockholm University in 2007, attempts to contextualize a treasure trove of archived maps and other cartographic literature housed mainly at the Russian Geographical Society in St. Petersburg and the University of Vilnius Library. While he remains close to his sources, Petronis’ intellectual breadth, organizational clarity, and sustained content analysis of the maps is refreshing. The dissertation treats maps, atlases, and expeditionary literature as main sources. Many of the maps – in French, German, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Russian – appear in color throughout Petronis’ first major work. Arguing that Lithuania was “constructed” cartographically in a systematic and transformative manner, Petronis smartly borrows from history, intellectual history, and historical geography (P. 15) to generate a critical interdisciplinary approach. To contextualize Lithuania’s representation, Petronis surveys the Petrine modernizing thrust of Russian state-sponsored cartographic science , which was further developed by an expansionist-minded Catherine II in the second half of the eighteenth century. He shows convincingly how maps after 1800 came to be used as tools of administrative ordering and governance. Such maps made definitional claims to lands and peoples of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) appear simpler, even when they were plainly incongruous and used (con- 290 Рецензии/Reviews sciously or unconsciously) to suit the rationalization of provincial lands and peoples into gubernii. Petronis argues that the Lithuanian nation was “constructed” not because he wishes to deny its cultural or political existence , as Poles and Russians often did using nineteenth-century nationstate discourse, but to point out the vanity of acts of “proving” which side was right using this-or-that historical or demographic argument: the polarized cartographic discourse that continues, for instance, today in Gaza and the West Bank. Surprisingly , a tried-and-true Rankean historicist approach works well here. The author offers a “source-critical analysis… treating [the maps] as historical documents… contextualizing [their] production” (P. 15), and refers to the influential writings of J. Brian Harley (Pp. 30-31). Attentive to grand-scale projects such as Catherine the Great’s General Land Survey, Petronis emerges from the krajowcy federalist (multiethnic ) Lithuanian historiographical tradition. Here, Leonid Gorizontov’s “empire of regions,” which came to pass in Russia after the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (PLC), is suitable for an evaluating Russian imperial organization and Lithuanian efforts at ethnic nation-building and federalist autonomy before 1914. Of greatest interest to Petronis is how the early modern GDLwas reconstructed spatially into Lithuania through Russian territorial boundary-making, the development of ethnographic science, and expeditionary quantitative and qualitative research in borderlands. He concludes that the process of “vertical integration” (P. 39) (annexation ? acquisition? conquest?) was a problematic process despite Russian efforts at systematization. The mapping of the GDL’s lands and peoples was subject to provincial plans to secure elite loyalty (Pp. 6882 ), thwarted Decembrists’plans for restructuring (Pp. 83-90), changes of paradigm in Russian ethnography in 1845-1848 (Pp. 122-125), the Polish uprising of 1863-1864 (which resulted in the establishment of a “northwest” imperial zone), and, from top to bottom, the caprices of each and every Romanov tsar. Adding to the literature on Russification, Petronis adds the important caveat that “almost all scientific works became susceptible to the political currents of the time, and colluded in the drawing of ‘politically correct’ conclusions” (P. 195). By considering empire/nation dialectics in a flattened two-dimensional frame, we can reconsider the course (or curse) of the nineteenth-century Lithuanian intelligentsia’s nationbuilding efforts in Imperial Russia’s borderlands. Neither the militarily and bureaucratically inclined empire -preservers nor the mobilizing cultural and political nation-builders 291 Ab Imperio, 1/2008 proved able to map out where an “ethnoterritorial” GDL/Lithuania ended and began, although, as Petronis argues, a crystallization of “constructed ” Lithuania as an imperial/ national ethnoterritorial collective was completed by 1870 (P. 222...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 289-293
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.