Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian Empire


Our project asks a single, deceptively straightforward question: What can we learn about the Russian past by thinking carefully about space - geographical space in particular? Behind that question lurks the conviction that thinking spatially prompts us to ask new questions, work in new ways, produce new knowledge, communicate that knowledge through new media, and build new communities.

If this conviction holds water, what then are the most productive ways of studying space (as a historical subject) and of mobilizing it as an analytical tool? How might we bridge the gap between conceptual and physical space? Can we map cultural space? Can we historicize geography? How can we move from locating things, places, and people to understanding how location shaped the lives of individuals (and the empire they inhabited)? How do we move from asking "where?" to understanding why "where" mattered?

What does it mean to map the history of the Russian Empire in particular? Where - let alone when - did the Russian Empire begin and end? What were the implications of distance and proximity, distribution and density, accessibility and isolation? Can we find new ways of navigating between the micro and macro scales of such a vast political space? Can we excavate commercial and cultural networks by paying close attention to the too-often-neglected geospatial character of our sources? Can we learn from the process of mapping - as well as imagining and contextualizing and narrating - boundaries, borders, regions, provinces, jurisdictions, sites and spaces? 

You can read in more detail about the project by following the links below. You are also welcome to roam through the pages and sections of the site in any order you like using the Table of Contents or the search tool in the top navigation bar. 


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