There is a paradox in the aftermath of the global imperial crisis in the region of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. The Habsburg Empire which had been thought about as the katechon of future world of federalism broke into nation-states with regimes of accommodation and repression of national minorities. The Russian Empire which had been thought about as the future centralized nation-state transformed into a federation with layered forms of autonomy and decentralization. The exploration of this paradox begins with the critique of the image of the Russian Empire as a centralized and centralizing state and exploration of inclusive and differentiated governance and ways in which this political formation was reflected in political discourses of reformist and oppositional movements which in one way or another imagined the post-imperial order. The paper then traces the constitutional debates in the revolutionary contexts of 1905 and 1917 and assesses how these debates reflected local and global discourses of imagining the post-imperial order and how they were incorporated into the constitutions adopted on the territory of the former Russian Empire. The global imperial crisis which brought down the Qing, Russian, Ottoman, German and Habsburg empires stimulated imagination of post-imperial order not only in the named contexts, but also in the British, French and other cases. The circulation and synthesis of ideas fostered by the miscellany of the crumbling empires and the diversity within each of them produced a great variety of imaginations. The non-Soviet constitutional projects of 1917–1921 and the Soviet constitutions of 1918 and 1924 incorporated the experience of the Russian Empire and other imperial and post-imperial formations. The Constitution of the Far Eastern Republic, for instance, borrowed the concept of non-territorial autonomy from the Ukrainian Constitution of 1918, while the ineffectiveness of the formal right to territorial autonomy resembled that in the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1920. The multilateral transfers and borrowings, both from the Russian imperial and other contexts, resulted in the departure of the 1924 Constitution of the Soviet Union from the initial Bolshevik plans. Instead of establishing a non-national class-centered formation, it became a mere preamble to a multinational confederation to be developed by its sovereign participants, which included two federations.
In the interview to Ab ImperioJournal within the series “Conversation with Author” Pieter Judson shares the research laboratory behind his revisionist account of the history of the Habsburg Empire (The Habsburg Empire: A New History) which was published by Harvard University press in English in 2016. The interview reveals an interesting historiographic situation at the end of the 20thcentury when historians of the Habsburg Empire felt the need to differentiate its experience from the domineering perspective coming from the history of the Russian Empire, while historians who rediscovered the imperial dimension in Russian history followed the ideal-type of the Habsburg multinational empire. The major thrust of revising the history of Habsburg Empire by Judson is twofold: to explore in the long dureeperspective the vitality of the empire-building (“state-building from above” and “state-building from below”) in the Habsburg case through institutions and subjecthood, i.e. to decenter the national narratives about the composite Habsburg space and the idiom of inevitable decline of the Habsburg empire as another “sick man” in Europe; and to advance a systematic and symmetric comparison of modern statehood in Europe, in which the Habsburg case does not look exotic, having the imperial dimension. The interview touches on the question of global and comparative history of empires, the usefulness of comparative taxonomy of colonial-continental empire, the problem of analytical languages and hegemony of nation-centered imaginary in description of the historical experience of empire, the balance between political and social and cultural history approaches to understanding empire, and, finally, on the reception of the book in the region.
This chapter focuses on imageries and historical change in the European Russian Arctic.
This article examines the nature of Soviet consumption and technological development through the history of milk and milk packaging between the 1950s and 1970s. Based on published and archival materials, the paper focuses on the role that milk played in Soviet nutrition and the role that packaging played in Soviet consumption. The article also examines the modernization of technology for making packaging as well as technology transfer from the West. It concludes that, as in many Western countries, both the Soviet state and Soviet specialists saw it as important to increase the consumption of milk after the war, but the meaning of milk changed. Milk, a basic staple for nutrition, became a matter of science and specialists sought to explain its positive effects. In addition, due to the development of the paper and chemical industries, new forms of milk packaging, more practical in their uses, were introduced in the West. Soviet leaders and specialists saw the new packaging as a desirable feature of modernity, but were unsuccessful in launching domestic technologies for manufacturing such packaging. While experimenting with domestic technology, Soviet producers also received foreign equipment for making milk packaging. Nevertheless, the capacity of such foreign equipment was not enough to satisfy growing demand and the consumption of “modern packaging” remained lower than in the West until the introduction of capitalism and, with it, foreign companies into the Russian market in the 1990s.
This article explores the history of the Russian monopolistic companies that operated in the international market for blubber in the first half of the eighteenth century. It argues that the long-held view that the companies were unsuccessful is not supported by the statistics relating to the trade, which indicate impressive progress in terms of market revenue and the redistribution of profits. Moreover, the authorities had ambitious strategic goals for the project as a whole that entailed more than simple commercial success. The companies, in fact, were perceived as an instrument that would transform landlocked Muscovy into a leading power in the international maritime economy. The article analyzes the essence and the consequences of these conflicting perspectives.
This article examines the changing patterns of industrial conflict in a rapidly modernizing Eastern European city, focusing on a multi-ethnic industrial hub. I follow repertoires of contention in four crucial moments characterized by shifting scales of the geopolitical embeddedness of the city: (1) an early Luddite riot of 1861 in the Polish autonomous sub-state within the Russian Empire, (2) the first massive labor protest and the following pogrom of 1892 in the city already fully subsumed under the imperial governance, (3) a failed revolution of 1905 with a sophisticated feedback loop between party politics and street emotions, (4) mobilization practices during the German military occupation during the IWW culminating in the tram workers strike of 1917, (5) developing forms of industrial bargaining in the early Polish state after 1918. This broad picture spanning over 60 years (1861-1921) is grounded in the existing secondary literature, extensive queries of primary sources such as administration reports, court proceedings and petitions, and the analysis of political leaflets and biographical testimonies of the working class militants. Such a cross temporal comparison brings a broader outlook on the labor unrest in Russian Poland and beyond, which before was researched only in fragmented manner.
This article examines the industrial wastes and environmental effects of Soviet technological development through the history of the Karelian Isthmus, a border territory that had previously been Finnish. Focusing primarily on the history of two large enterprises – the Svetogorskii (former Enso) and Sovetskii (former Johannes) pulp and paper making plants, the authors illustrate the polluting nature of the Soviet economy in the 1940s-1980s. We contend that from the very beginning, important as they were for the USSR, the enterprises of the Isthmus were built into a system of shortages of techniques and materials that contributed to the hectic fulfillment of the plan. Producing pulp and pulp-based products remained a priority during the whole Soviet period. On the level of industrial enterprises, the Soviet system revealed itself as incapable of solving the problem of pollution and wasting. After waste treatment facilities developed by Soviet engineers in the 1960s turned out to be inadequate for dealing with increasing pollution, the Soviet authorities called on Finnish companies to carry out substantial modernization of a few enterprises on the Isthmus. This helped the modernized plants remain functioning in the age of economic crisis at the end of the Soviet epoch. Old problems, however, such as shortages and lack of expertise, remained pivotal, while new sources of pollution, such as carbon emissions, appeared. As a result, the level of contamination was still high and led to negative environmental impacts.
Published by EH.Net (January 2019)
Tapio S. Katko, Finnish Water Services: Experiences in a Global Perspective. Finnish Water Utilities Association, 2016. 288 pp. 70 euros (hardcover), ISBN: 978-952-6697-26-0.
Reviewed for EH.Net by Viktor Pál, Laboratory for Environmental and Technological History, Higher School of Economics.
The 1905 Revolution was often considered by workers writing memoirs as the most important event in their lives. This paper examines biographical reminiscences of the political participation of working-class militants in the 1905 Revolution. I scrutinize four tropes used by working-class writers to describe their life stories narrated around their political identity. These are: (1) overcoming misery and destitution, (2) autodidacticism, (3) political initiation, and (4) feeling of belonging to the community of equals. All four demonstrate that the militant self cannot be understood in separation from the life context of the mobilized workers. Participation in party politics was an important factor modifying the life course of workers in the direction resonating with their aspirations and longings. The argument is informed by analysis of over a hundred of biographical testimonies written by militants from various political parties in different political circumstances.
The paper aims to discuss the multifaceted links between the marine environment of the Gulf of Finland and the representations of the large complex of cultural heritage related to the city of St. Petersburg. The paper is based on a spatial imaginary of Greater St. Petersburg as the cultural and technological unity of the city and adjacent waterscapes in the times of the Russian Empire. This concept is instrumental to see the historical links between the parts of the heritage complex that has by now disintegrated and has been separated by state borders.
The chapter takes the case of the formation of the Constitutional Democratic party (the Kadets) in the context of emerging mass politics, 1905 revolution, and political reforms. Going against the genealogical approach, the author stresses the contingency and novelty of party liberalism in the early twentieth century. In particular, the chapter explores the heterogeneity of the Kadet ranks, the concept of rupture and pluralism in self-representation of the nascent liberal party, and techniques of compromise and negotiation in the pluralist political setting that allowed the party and its platform to cohere. The author also argues that the pluralism of political and ideological context of the Kadet party formation was also matched by pluralism of mobilized space of imperial diversity, that included national, regionalist, and autonomist voices. The context of mobilized imperial diversity is shown to be not only inhibiting, but aiding the liberal politics in the Russian Empire.
This article explores the multivalent meanings of the “porto-franco” concept and practices in the discussions of the duty-free trade in the Russian Far East in the second half of the 19th century. Taken both as a phenomenon of everyday social, economic and management practices and as a concept that was a product of global intra- and inter-imperial comparison “porto-franco” entered the political language in which the discussion of the political organization of imperial space was conducted. Based on a comparison of several political projects, such as nationalistic and regionalist ones, and their stance towards duty-free trade in the Russian Far East, the article reveals the presence of “porto-franco” in the political vocabulary and imagination of the era due to the politicization and nationalization of economic discourse in the modernizing empire.
To date the research of Orientalism in Russia did not present the whole mosaic palette of its competing schools and disciplines. The influential missionary Orthodox Orientology remains understudied. Even less known is contribution in the making of intolerant discourse on Islam by state atheist associations (League of Militant Godless (1925–1947) succeeded by the Knowledge Society), who seized its niche under the Soviet rule. This article attempts to integrate applied missionary and atheist schools of Oriental studies into the general debates on Orientalism in twentieth-century Russia. The focus is on agents and networks of the Soviet propaganda, as well as on its changing language, topics and messages. A special attention is paid to continuities in the Orientalist imagination of Islam between pre-Soviet Orthodox missionaries, Soviet militant atheists, post-war philosophers and dissident Muslim preachers of the post-socialist Islamic appeal (da‘wa).
Industrialisation and social transformations changed the landscapes of the Soviet Arctic and stimulated discussions about the models of its domestication. Numerous industrial towns in the Soviet Far North in the 1930s were established next to Gulag labour camps. The attempt of technical, social and visual re-conceptualisation of urban space in the Soviet Arctic related to several reforms of the post-Stalin period. This chapter analyses how Leningrad architects since the 1950s used modernist urban projects for the realisation of their professional and personal ambitions trying to create a new conception of a “normal city” in extreme climate. While most were not implemented, their appearance shows the shift of the attitude toward the North in the USSR as well as the controversial changes of experts’ position.
This article examines the Finnish industrial and trade fairs held in the Soviet Union in the context of Finnish–Soviet trade and scientific–technical cooperation in the 1950s and 1960s. While primarily focused on fairs, it also discusses different activities that accompanied them, such as lectures, visits, and negotiations between Finnish traders and Soviet officials and specialists. This study illustrates how such first-hand contact played an important role in Finnish– Soviet communications. First, they helped Finnish producers showcase their goods and technologies directly to Soviet buyers in various ministries and organizations. Second, these contacts included diverse activities such as face-toface contacts, lectures, and seminars, being a means of technology transfer from Finland to the USSR. Finally, although they were commercial interactions without explicit ideological purposes – like many international exhibitions of the last century – Finnish fairs demonstrated a technological gap between Finland and the USSR.
The paper explores a symbolic appropriation of Saimaa Canal by Soviet media after it became part of the USSR in the 1940s.
This article examines the discourses of water pollution and protection in the Soviet Union in the 1950s-1960s. It explores discursive practices which sprung up related to two paper and pulp plants, one located on the shore of Lake Baikal and another production unit in Svetogorsk on the border with Finland. These two discourses provide deep insight to pro-industry and nature protection claims which characterized Soviet water pollution and protection discourses in the 1950s-1960s. The paper contends that discussions about pulp production near Baikal were influencing the conditions in other, far located regions and stimulated engineering of water treatment facilities. The development of such facilities became a compromise between supporters and defenders of increasing pulp industry production, but in practice did not result in solving the problem of water pollution. In analyzing this issue, I consider discussions around the Baikal pulp plant and first attempts of introducing advanced water treatment in an industrial city of Svetogorsk and beyond, also discussing contacts with the West, in particular with Finland and their effects on Soviet water management.