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198099 Saint Petersburg
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Phone:+7 (812)786-92-49 

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Administration
Department Head Alexander Semyonov
Academic Supervisor Evgeniy Anisimov
Book
From Cotton and Smoke: Łódź – Industrial City and Discourses of Asynchronous Modernity 1897–1994

Zysiak A., Śmiechowski K., Każmierska K. et al.

Lodz University Press, Jagiellonian University Press, distributed by Columbia University Press, 2018.

Book chapter
Prisoners: Experiencing the Criminal Other

Vasilyev P., Vidor G. M.

In bk.: Encounters with Emotions: Negotiating Cultural Differences since Early Modernity. NY: Berghahn Books, 2019. P. 184-206.

Report on the International Associate Research Fellowship

Stephen B. Riegg reports about his International Associate Research Fellowship at HSE St Petersburg

Stephen B. Riegg (Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of History, Texas A&M University, College Station)

 

Research Report

Between July and December 2014, I was an International Associate Research Fellow at the Center for Historical Research and the Department of History, HSE St Petersburg. 

During that time, I conducted research for my dissertation, “Claiming the Caucasus: Russia’s Imperial Encounter with Armenians, 1801-1894.” I defended my dissertation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in February 2016. Building upon that work, I am now developing a book manuscript titled Beyond the Caucasus: The Russian Empire and Armenians, 1801-1914.

Beyond the Caucasus explores the link between the Russian empire and the Armenian diaspora, a relationship that provides deep insight into Russian strategies of imperialism. Conservative bureaucrats and liberal Russian intellectuals alike often imagined the Armenians who populated Russia’s territorial fringes and navigated the tsarist state’s metropolitan centers as avaricious, unclean, and potentially disloyal — “Asiatic” remained a favorite label. Yet the tsars also valued the Armenian diaspora’s interimperial and international connections, grounded in ecumenical and economic ties between distant Armenian communities, and sought to benefit from the Armenian nation’s straddling of the Russian, Persian, and Ottoman empires. Recruited from abroad as Russia’s colonizers, entrepreneurs, and soldiers in the early nineteenth century, Armenians from neighboring Muslim states flocked to the domain of the Christian emperor.

The results of this imperial project were paradoxical. Armenians enjoyed exclusive privileges—from reduced taxation to relative religious and cultural freedom—and many communities from Tiflis in the South Caucasus to St. Petersburg prospered. Yet the Armenian encounter with modernity in the nineteenth century yielded a complex interplay of national and imperial identities. Tsarist agents lauded Armenian traders’ contributions to the economic development of the imperial periphery but distrusted their affiliations with British and French merchants in Asia Minor. The government supported an Armenian family’s establishment of the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages in Moscow but prohibited the formation of smaller Armenian academies elsewhere. Tsarist diplomats amplified the clout of the Armenian Church in European capitals, but the government shuttered Armenian parish schools and imprisoned clergy when it detected links between the church and a rising nationalist movement. In the late nineteenth century, a multifaceted Armenian nationalism infused students, aristocrats, and clerics. Yet even during this challenge to tsarist authority, Russian statesmen and Armenian clergy continued to pursue parallel aims.

I argue that Russia harnessed the stateless and dispersed Armenian diaspora to build its empire in the Caucasus and beyond. The tsars relied on the stature of the two most influential institutions of that diaspora, the merchantry and the clergy, to project diplomatic power from Constantinople to Copenhagen, to benefit economically from the transimperial trade networks of Armenian merchants in Russia, Persia, and Turkey, and to draw political advantage from the Armenian Church’s extensive authority within that nation.   

 

I am now an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University. My article, “Imperial Challengers: Tsarist Responses to Armenian Raids into Anatolia, 1875–1890” is forthcoming from the journal Russian Review.