'This is an extremely timely book, it is the first history of Russia which does the imperial theme full justice.' Geoffrey Hosking, The Slavonic Review 'This is the first attempt in any language to centre the whole of Russian history from the 16th century to the present day on the relations between the empire's ethnic groups...timely as well as innovative' David Saunders,'This is an extremely timely book, it is the first history of Russia which does the imperial theme full justice.' Geoffrey Hosking, The Slavonic Review 'This is the first attempt in any language to centre the whole of Russian history from the 16th century to the present day on the relations between the empire's ethnic groups...timely as well as innovative' David Saunders, English Historical Review The "national question" and how to impose control over its diverse ethnic identities has long posed a problem for the Russian state. This major survey of Russia as a multi-ethnic empire spans the imperial years from the sixteenth century to 1917, with major consideration of the Soviet phase. It asks how Russians incorporated new territories, how they were resisted, what the character of a multi-ethnic empire was and how, finally, these issues related to nationalism.Greeted with critical acclaim in the original German, this major survey of Russia as a multi ethnic empire spans the imperial years from the sixteenth century to 1917, with a serious consideration of the Soviet phase. It asks how Russians incorporated new territories, how they were resisted, what the character of a multi ethnic empire was and how, finally, these issues related to nationalism. With modern Russia at the forefront of contemporary world affairs, our need to understand its colonial and national past and its implications for the present has never been greater. Breaking completely new ground, The Russian Empire is essential reading. Andreas Kappeler is Professor of East European History, University of Vienna. The translator of this edition is Alfred Clayton....
|Title||:||The Russian Empire: A Multi-Ethnic History|
|Number of Pages||:||480 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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The Russian Empire: A Multi-Ethnic History Reviews
Biographical teaserKarl Nesselrode, born in Lisbon to a German Catholic father and a Jewish protestant mother baptised in an Anglican church and for a while he was foreign minister under Tsar Alexander I without ever mastering the Russian language. His one time colleague Ioannis Kapodistrias went on to become the first head of state of Greece after also having served for a while as a foreign minister to Alexander I. These are for Andreas Kappeler emblematic figures hinting at the cosmopolitan nature of the pre-modern Russian state. serious introductionAndreas Kappeler's perspective as a Swiss historian, looking out from a state that at least to an outsiders eyes seems to have largely managed to be a multi-ethnic state with minimal coercion towards a another multi-ethnic state gives his 1992 book a basis of empathy . The book was translated into English as The Russian Empire, which is unfortunate because the choice of words slips away from his interest in the multi-ethnic nature of that empire which is the whole point of the book. the author's argumentKappeler considers the history of Russia from the middle of the sixteenth century through to the end of the Soviet period looking at the range of peoples ruled over first by the Tsars and then the Party. He argues that over this period of time there were two basic policy approaches, the first can be characterised as flexible pragmatism the second, which came to predominate in the nineteenth century, was repressive assimilation. However irrespective of the policy adopted Russia, the Soviet Union and its successor states all have all had to work within a reality of having to deal with multi-ethnic populations.The book is arranged largely chronologically starting in the middle of the Sixteenth century. The population of the current Russian state is about 82% Russian (view spoiler)[ presumably the figure is taken from self-definition in censuses, you might want to assume that the reality is a bit fuzzy (hide spoiler)], at that time it is estimated that this was about 90%. Around a core Russian zone where significant non-Russian populations, some of these were settled Finno-Ugric groups, others were semi-nomadic, hunters and fishers or Muslim Tatars invited in as settlers into strengthen the cavalry of the Russian state.Over the next few centuries this state was to steadily grow by absorbing neighbouring territories. Kappeler gives a number of drivers for this gathering in the Russian lands (ie territories which had been previously part of Kievian Rus' before the Mongol invasion (view spoiler)[ the populations of those lands were not necessarily then or earlier entirely majority Russian speaking (hide spoiler)]), the former lands of the Golden Horde and competition with other regional powers such as Persia or the Ottoman Empire and invitation (Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan(view spoiler)[ elites in those regions entered into relations with the Russian state typically to avoid problems with their neighbours (hide spoiler)]). This expansion profoundly changed the ethnic and economic mix of the polity.Most of the Russian population in the core region were peasants tied down in village communes, largely immobile and poorly skilled, a situation that only began to change after the emancipation of the Serfs in 1861. The newly acquired peripheral regions provided a range of benefits, stronger agriculture bases, more skilled populations, more varied economies. Some territories were thinly populated, the new settlers in those areas included Germans (many Mennonites), Greeks, and Serbs among others. Other newly territories were themselves multi-ethnic, with for instance German, Polish or Swedish nobles ruling over Latvian, Ukrainian or Finnish peasant populations. Jews, Armenians and Tatars dominated town life and trade in different regions. Even more complex patterns could and can be found in Caucasus region and in Central Asia. Some groups had social elites and cultural self-awareness, others did not. There were further divisions between settled and nomadic populations as well as a wide range of religions.The success of Russian rulers in managing to expand was through co-opting local populations. Russia's lack of skilled populations could be solved by the non-Russians, different ethnic groups took on specialised functions in the military, administration, commerce or colonisation. The ruling elite of the empire was fairly cosmopolitan, peripheral areas were often more sophisticated than the core region, with higher levels of education. That only 30% of the Orthodox bishops of eighteenth century Russia were born Russian speakers while 60% were Ukrainian (with the rest consisting of Greeks, Serbs and Romanians) is not then very surprising. The picture was not entirely rosy; there was a long period of warfare in the northern Caucasus until the 1860s, as well as large scale emigration of Kalmyks, Crimean Tatars and Circassians beyond the borders of the Russian empire, but the state was mostly tolerant of diversity.This all changed from the late eighteenth century onwards with the development of varieties of nationalisms within the Russian empire. Kappelar uses Miroslav Hroch's three stage model for development of European nationalist movements as a model for analysis:A) learned interest in language, history and folklore of the ethnic groupB) attempt to create a national consciousness in broad sections of the populationC) mass movements aiming to achieve political autonomy for their groupIn addition he uses the concept of older (for instance Poles and Germans) and younger nations (such as Belorussians and Ukrainians) which started to move through Hroch's three phases. These varieties of nationalisms competed with each other and were mutually exclusive in their aspirations. There were also divisions between conservatives and socialists, Pan-Islamists and those supporting local movements, Pan-Slavists and nationalists. Nor was new nationalist feeling necessarily anti-Russian. The aspiration of Armenian nationalists was for Russia to annex Armenian regions within the Ottoman Empire while Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians or Ukrainians looked towards a Government that was increasingly identifying itself as Russian for assistance against German or Polish landlords. In the context of developing nationalisms, national independence wars in Greece and Serbia against the multi-ethnic Ottoman empire, popular national movements in many regions of Europe in 1848 and revolts in Poland in 1830-31 and 1863, Russian governments reacted with policies of Russification. On the one hand these can be viewed as successful, in so far as there were no nationalist rebellions between 1863 and 1905, on the other they increased tensions and successively alienated national groups from the government - even those like the Armenians or the Latvians who had been relatively supportive of Russian authorities in the past.Russification in Polish regions was particularly extreme, the University of Warsaw was reopened as a purely Russian Speaking institution, Russian became the language of instruction in elementary schools from the 1880s until 1905 when a strike of schoolchildren led the government to allow a parallel system of Polish language elementary schools to cater for Polish speakers. The Armenian church was forcibly integrated into the Orthodox Church (view spoiler)[ The theology of the Armenian church was different to that of the Orthodox, so this move was not welcomed enthusiastically (hide spoiler)]. Publication of Lithuanian in Latin script was made illegal as was printing almost anything with the exception of folklore in the Ukrainian language, measures that enhanced the range of goods smuggled over the western borders (view spoiler)[ those were the days when you could make your fortune smuggling books, handing over slim volumes of poetry to shady characters in dark back alleys or in greasy inns ' oi, got any Shevchenko? Nah mate, problems with the printers, maybe next week? (hide spoiler)].The reaction was so extreme because of the development of nationalism among Russians themselves. Uvarov, minister for education under Nicholas I, had declared that the three pillars supporting the Russian state were Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality, this had the unfortunate consequence of making non-Russians and non-Orthodox Christians into a problem for the state. At the time of Nicholas I there were few limitations on autocracy, however the presence of Catholics, Lutherans, Muslims, Jews, Armenian Christians, Uniate Christians, Buddhists and Animists (among others) meant that significant portions of the population were non-Orthodox, worst of all was the national situation,according to the 1897 census Russians made up just over 44% of the ostensibly Russian Empire. One official reaction was to state that Ukrainian was a dialect, and that Ukrainians were not a nation but were instead 'little Russians'. Counted together, Ukrainians, Belorussians and Russians made up almost 67% of the Empire's inhabitants in 1897, so plainly denial of self-identification was important politically.This is the backdrop then to nineteenth century Russian literature. It was the product of individuals who had grown up with Lomonsov's grammar and Karamzin's conservative-patriotic history of Russian (and his sentimental novels too), to pick on one example, Natasha inWar and Peace, naturally instinctively, dancing in a Russian style or Levin's way of managing his estate in Tolstoy's work are statements in the context of an ongoing debate about what kind of nation Russia was to become. Among Russians there were two distinct nationalisms, that of the Westernisers who aspired towards a state characterised by rule of law and a constitution, and Slavophiles who idealised the world of Seventeenth century Russia before the reforms of Peter the Great (view spoiler)[ ie a world that was agrarian and whose culture was overwhelmingly religious (hide spoiler)]. Nationalists of both persuasions could find themselves in opposition to a government which was resistant to having a constitution and which sought economic development along the pattern of western Europe. Tensions from the increasing pace of modernisation saw Jews in particular being made into a scapegoat for social problems and they were the victims of large scale pogroms from the 1880s onwards(view spoiler)[ Geoffrey Hosking's, I heard once remark, that he felt jealousy was a major driver of Russian anti-Semitism, as the world the conservative nationalists aspired to was the one that Jews in the Sheitels had, though presumably they wanted it without the legal and social restrictions that limited its development and expression (hide spoiler)].The breakdown of the Tsarist regime during WWI allowed the Bolsheviks to start the whole process over again. The Soviet and post-Soviet periods saw the repetition of earlier policies and problems. The 1920s were a relative Golden Age for national groups with freedom to publish and teach in their native languages - elementary education was provided in 22 languages in Uzbekistan, 15 in Dagestan and 80 in Russia. The situation changed again under Stalin. Local elites were destroyed during collectivisation and the Terror, whole populations were deported to Central Asia during WWII, Russian language learning was promoted, and the participation of non-Russians in government reduced. Russian settlers in Kazakhstan, Latvia and Estonia accounted for around a third of the population of those areas by the end of the 1970s. At the same time relatively greater prosperity in peripheral regions led to a feeling in provincial areas of Russia that Russians were a discriminated majority. Familiar patterns of prejudice and resentments saw mass emigration of Germans to West Germany and Jews to Israel from the 1960s.Kappeler lays out a basic historical and methodological framework, and his book counterbalances the curious absence of non-Russians from a good deal of Russian history. That for long periods of time policies of toleration and co-option allowed different groups to live alongside each other more or less peacefully offers some optimism in considering the Post Soviet states left with embodied tensions between conflicting national identities and aspirations. However it is also clear from his account that the development of nationalisms - still an ongoing process in some post-Soviet states has been historically difficult for states in the region to manage without repression.
This look at the diversity of the Russian Empire shows the territory's changing demographics and the development of its social, economic, administrative, and educational sectors. Taking information from the 1897 census and elsewhere to create a discussion about the empire, this work is revealing and intriguing. However, sometimes the thesis of each chapter gets buried under the mountains of statistics. It makes for long-slog reading in order to eke out the main ideas. In some instances, the chapters could be better organized and demonstrate more clearly posited arguments.
Badly written, but this book is really among the few ones that portraits russian multiethnic empire scientifically.
a definite must-read for all students of Russia and its former empire.