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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.
Since the nineteenth century, access to and the development of natural
resources became an important element of national and international politics. Resource
security emerged as an issue vital to national security; and resource competition and
crises gave rise to international tensions as well as to technological innovation and new
modes of transnational cooperation. This paper discusses ongoing collaborative research
activities in the Tensions of Europe network. Three broader themes are presented: (1)
perceptions and constructions of resources, resource crises, and resource futures; (2)
globalized resource chains and environmental transformation; and (3) managing crises:
technologies, expertise, and the politics of natural resources.
Focusing on the accelerated use of limestone as a building material in Russia, and government sponsored scientiﬁc studies of widespread limestone deposits throughout the nineteenth-century, this contribution investigates the process of transforming common rocks into measurable and valuable natural resources indispensable for actualizing industrial development on a national scale. Special attention is given to the production of a new body of expert knowledge on the speciﬁc properties, qualities and practical uses of raw stone materials, to the actors involved in producing this knowledge, and to their crucial role in forming a scientiﬁc support system for the mining and construction industries, which gradually developed an institutional hierarchy in its own right. One of the important points of the article is, on the one hand, to show that scientiﬁc engagement with the material was closely interrelated to ‘resource nationalism’ policies that became an inﬂuential driving force of material sciences institutionalization on the national scale. On the other hand, it is argued that the international circulation of knowledge, technics, and standardization of testing procedures also greatly inﬂuenced that process.
This article argues that the history of Russian constitutional and parliamentary reform in the early 20th century can be cast in a new light in view of the global transformation of political life under the challenge of imperial diversity and mass politics. The article points out that imperial diversity as a challenge to democratic government was not unique to the Russian Empire. The character of the Russian Empire was marked by peculiarities; it was shaped by composite and hybrid imperial space, which placed the challenge of imperial diversity at the center of political practices and imaginaries. The article traces the history of political reform in the Russian Empire in the early 20th century focusing on the reform of the Sejm of the Grand Duchy of Finland and the novel practices and political imaginaries of imperial diversity in the first and second State Duma. The exploration of the history of the constitutional reform in the Russian Empire of early 20th century demonstrates that rather than being absolute antagonists to representative government, Russian imperial politics and traditions of imperial sovereignty nested possibilities of compromise and redefinition of political solidarity in the space of diversity.
Keywords History of the Russian Empire, history of the State Duma, global history of parliamentarism, pseudo-constitutionalism, Russian liberalism
Ethnographic conceptualism takes its cue from conceptual art and uses
artistic interventions as an anthropological research tool. The term
‘ethnographic conceptualism’ was coined to sum up the method of the
exhibition project Gifts to Soviet Leaders (Kremlin Museum, Moscow
2006) as simultaneously a reflection on the vast and complex economy
of public gifts to heads of Soviet state, a distinctly post-Soviet political
and cultural artefact, and as a tool for ethnography of post-socialism.
This article explores ethnographic conceptualism’s contribution to
performativity theory. I look at how it makes visible the tension between
what such projects perform and describe. In doing so, I use
ethnographic conceptualism as a vantage point to revisit the
foundational distinction of performativity theory between the constative
and performative statements (Austin). Drawing in this artistic and
research method, I redefine the performative, not as a domain or a type
of utterance that is distinct from the constative, but as an act of drawing
This chapter builds on the author’s previous work on the history of marginalized social groups, such as users of psychoactive drugs, female criminal offenders and GULAG prisoners. Taking the notion of ‘positionality’ as the point of departure, it traverses some of the methodological and ethical issues arising from the author’s experience in writing and publishing on such sensitive topics in the Russian context.
This book is dedicated to E.F. Kankrin, M.Kh. Reitern, and N.Kh. Bunge - finance ministers of imperial Russia, who have held their post for more than 40 years and have done a lot for the development of the Russian economy. Excerpts from the memoirs and diaries of contemporaries, journalistic and artistic works tell about them both as statesmen and as people. According to eyewitnesses, one can trace how the role of the financial ministry and its leader has changed throughout almost the entire XIX century. E.F. Kankrin (Minister of Finance in 1823–1844) led a successful struggle for a stable ruble exchange rate and encouraged the development of various branches of industry and trade so that their income would regularly fill the budget. M.Kh. Reitern (1862–1878), who held this position in the era of the “great reforms”, switched to a considered economic policy, stimulating priority financing of the most profitable industries. Finally, N.Kh. Bunge (1881–1886) had his task to prepare the conditions for a steadily surplus state budget. He looked at the activities of the Ministry of Finance in the general context of imperial politics, which was reflected in his “Afterlife Notes”, the latest edition of which is published for the first time in this book. The one also included notes by the art critic M.P. Kovalevsky, “The Powers That Hold”, vividly and bright depicting the Russian ministers of that time. The publication is equipped with detailed notes, an index, a glossary explaining special concepts and terms and contains the pasting of archived photographs.
This article explores the intellectual history of the concept of “feeling of justice” and related concepts and the attempts to make them central to legal practice in the context of early 20th century Russia. It starts by tracing the emergence of new modes of thinking about judicial emotion in fin-de-siècle Russian Empire and accounts for both international and local influences on these ideas. It further examines the development of these theories after the 1917 Russian Revolution and notes both continuities and ruptures across this revolutionary divide. Finally, the article explores the attempts to put these radical ideas into practice by focusing on the experimental legal model of “revolutionary justice” that was employed in Soviet Russia between 1917 and 1922 which highlights the discrepancies between bold utopian projects and harsh material realities of the revolutionary period.
The name Tritogeneia likely means ‘born of the Third’, this Third one being the supreme god, the Most High. Poseidon (at least Poseidon Helikonios) was once such a god. He was the lord of the water that descended from heaven and a deity closely associated with the celestial pole. His trident is the symbol that indicates his celestial nature, and this symbol developed from a previous one – a raised hand with three fingers. This number of fingers signified the similarity with the dwellers of the sky – the birds, with their three toes in front.
During the Cold War, official Soviet institutions organized tens of exhibitions of an American figurative artist Rockwell Kent. These exhibitions, undertaken bypassing the official United States, demonstrate that promotion of Kent in the USSR was an exclusively Soviet enterprise. Examining the role of Soviet institutions in Kent’s success, the article sheds new light on the Soviet approach to the representation of American visual art during the Cold War.
Basing on unique findings from American and Russian archives, the article provides a comprehensive analysis of political and aesthetical factors, which predetermined Kent’s incredible popularity in the Soviet Union. Contextualizing the Soviet representation of Kent within relevant Cold War contexts, the article argues that Kent occupied a specific symbolic position in Soviet culture, as Soviet propaganda re-conceptualized the artist’s biography and established the Myth of Rockwell Kent. This myth served for legitimization of Soviet ideology and for anti-American propaganda.
According to the alliance treaty between General Jacob De la Gardie and Novgorod (signed
on July 25, 1611) one of the Swedish princes became a candidate for the Muscovite throne.
After Karl IX had died and Gustav Adolf had been recognized as the new King of Sweden his
younger brother Karl Filip (or Carl Philip, engl.: Charles Philip) became a candidate for the
Muscovite throne. It was a good candidature for numerous political powers, both in Muscovy
and in Sweden. After the Land Home Guard conquered Moscow Kremlin in November 1612,
the preparation to the Electing Assembly started. In the same time active preparation for the
Prince’s visit were taken in Novgorod. But the “sovereign Karl Filip” left Sweden only in the
summer of 1613. By that time the candidature of Mikhail Romanov had won on the Electing
In late summer 1613 Prince Karl Filip had an audience with Novgorod representatives. The
head of the Novgorod embassy, archimandrite Cyprian in his speech to the Prince had
appealed to the so called “Varangian Legend”. The first address to the Old Russian heritage
appeared in Novgorod’s political rhetoric in the Order to the Embassy of Jur’ev archimandrite
Nikandr, on December, 25, 1611. The idea of the Varangian origin of Rurik was
used in it. This idea corresponds with the background of a typical Muscovite “intellectual” of
the late 16th century.
No agreement in Vyborg was achieved. The Prince returned back to Sweden and Novgorod’s
embassy – to Novgorod. But the figure of Prince Karl Filip did not leave the Novgorod scene
since his leaving Vyborg. In autumn the Swedish viceregent Evert Horn initiated the plebiscite
for the Novgorodians’ oath to King Gustav Adolf (if they agreed they became the King’s
subjects). The plebiscite was postponed until Easter 1615; then it failed but in May 1615
Novgorod stockholders proposed a collective notion: they had sworn an oath to Prince Karl
Filip as their sovereign and they could not swear to anybody else as to him. Such an oath
could be recognized as treason. Proclaiming such fidelity to “sovereign Karl Filip” was
symbolic for those Novgorodians who stayed in Novgorod and did not submit to the direct
pressure by the King’s authorities.
Those who kept fidelity to Karl Filip (and rejected to swear to the King) were subjected with
great fiscal press. In such conditions Novgorod townsmen and servicemen waited for a
peaceful agreement between Moscow and Sweden that had been achieved only on February
27, 1617. The election of Mikhail Romanov to the Muscovite throne was likely a result of
direct violence. The idea of a czar’s election itself had embarrassed Muscovite society reminding the elections of czar Boris Godunov in 1598. The ideological narratives created
during the first decades of their reign plotted Mikhail’s rights to the throne not on the all-
Land elections but on the relations with previous czars. Up to the end of 1613 positions of
foreign candidatures (Prince Wladislaw from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and
Prince Karl Filip from Sweden) were very strong indeed. There are numerous evidences that
the servicemen from different districts were ready to reject czar Mikhail for the “true czar
from a reigning race”.
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.
The article examines a crucial shift in models of domestication of the Soviet Far North during the Thaw period. The closure of the Gulag system and the social transformations of the 1950s caused changes in the social space of the Soviet North and in the role of expert knowledge in the USSR. By focusing on modernist urban projects for the Soviet Arctic, I analyse how urban specialists during the Thaw attempted to formulate a new conception of the North as a place for ‘ordinary life’ and therefore transform a peripheral region into an ‘average’ Soviet space.
This chapter focuses on imageries and historical change in the European Russian Arctic.
The Circumpolar North has been changing rapidly within the last decades, and the socioeconomic systems of the Eurasian Arctic and Siberia in particular have displayed the most dramatic changes. Here, anthropogenic drivers of environmental change such as migration and industrialization are added to climate-induced changes in the natural environment such as permafrost thawing and increased frequency of extreme events. Understanding and adapting to both types of changes are important to local and indigenous peoples in the Arctic and for the wider global community due to transboundary connectivity. As local and indigenous peoples, decision-makers and scientists perceive changes and impacts differently and often fail to communicate efficiently to respond to changes adequately, we convened a meeting of the three groups in Salekhard in 2017. The outcomes of the meeting include perceptions of how the three groups each perceive the main issues affecting health and well-being and recommendations for working together better.
Sergey Glebov and Alexander Semyonov recall Mark von Hagen as a historian of empires, Ab Imperio’s supporter, and member of its Editorial Board.
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.
Drawing on an analysis of a large corpus of published and unpublished sources, this chapter focuses on four exemplary encounters between ‘intellectual’/’political’ convicts and ‘common’ prisoners in Russian and Italy between the early nineteenth century and the present. It explores how emotions shape and are shaped by face-to-face encounters, and explores the ways feelings are communicated across social and cultural divides, both real and perceived. Further, it discusses some instances in which prison encounters deeply transformed the emotional repertoires of those who experienced them.
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 two-part overview of contemporary Russian anthropology focuses in detail on the work of several scholars and situates it in the changing landscape of Russian academia. The main issue I address is debates about an academic identity of Russian anthropology as ‘historical science’. Given that in Western anthropology, history has become one of the leading modes of anthropological analysis and that the turn to history marked a radical repositioning of anthropology’s very subject, it is important to explore how such configurations of history and anthropology work in other anthropological traditions and what the reasons are for turning to history or, conversely, avoiding it, for specific national, continental and transnational anthropological schools. In this article, I explore these questions by focusing on anthropology in Russia with an aim of reassembling the relationship between anthropology and history from the point of view of the anthropology of time. I ask what temporal frameworks underscore the relationship between anthropology and history. I explore these understandings ethnographically, that is, through ethnographic interviews with Russian scholars in addition to close readings of their works.