In the article that serves as an introduction to the publication of documents, Elena Vishlenkova analyzes the system of Russian imperial universities as it emerged after 1804, when specific territories were assigned for scientific exploration and cultural influence – the so-called school districts. The Kazan University district was the largest one, which included the territory from Nizhnii Novgorod to the Far East and from the Northern Sea to the Caucasus. Vishlenkova reconstructs the academic biographies and scientific activities of a number of its professors who were engaged in exploring the geographical and human resources of their region viewed as a part of the larger world, the Russian empire, the “Orient,” or of the “Slavic world.” According to Vishlenkova, Kazan university professors lived and worked in the situation of a cultural frontier. They regarded themselves as members of the European intellectual community and subjects of universal modern science. At the same time, in Kazan they lived in a multicultural environment, on a civilizational border between Europe and Asia, and their students and sometimes colleagues included “Asians,” while their practical knowledge often contradicted their scientific presumptions. Vishlenkova traces how in Kazan, a common European pattern of traveling and “collecting” peoples and human artifacts was becoming transformed into a more anthropologically informed study of cultures and languages that required the involvement of not only natural scientists but also humanity professors. The article begins with the story of a professor of natural history and botany, Karl Fuks, and proceeds with the analysis of different travel instructions written by Kazan University professors of Fuks’s generation as well as by the curator of the Kazan school district, M. L. Magnitsky. Vishlenkova evaluates a project of local anthropology by a professor of the philosophy department, V. Ia. Bulygin. Then she examines the so-called Oriental expeditions of the university. These programs were developed by scholars with only general theoretical knowledge as well as by experts already engaged in local “oriental” studies. Among the latter were scholars such as professor of Turkish-Tatar languages A. K. Kazem-Bek, who personally represented the very “Orient” those expeditions were expected to study. Vishlenkova shows how the complex vision of the “Orient,” which combined the insider with the outsider perspective, influenced Kazan scholars of Slavic languages and cultures. In particular, the article traces the influence of Kazan Orientalists on the research practices and perception of the “Slavic world” of well-known Kazan linguists such as Professor V. I. Grigorovich.


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pp. 245-286
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