The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

The Empire at Work

As you explore this section, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) The cards provide a sense of the most prominent (and sometimes, the most amusing or outlandish) economic activities, but they do not provide thorough documentation of the economic activities in each province.

2) Economic activity in the Russian Empire had a curious relationship with social status: it was possible to wield power without possessing wealth, and wealth could not always be converted into power. That said, it is very much worth thinking about the gulf between the sorts of people who controlled economic resources and those whose labor made them productive.

3) Gribanov was limited by his medium: he was producing playing cards, not writing a book.

4) There is an implicit bias in the cards toward the production of goods for market. Household and other domestic activities are glaringly absent.

5) The cards seesaw between generality and specificity. Sometimes we are left wondering what sorts of factories are present in a province; sometimes we descend into the micro level of horse glue rendering or the production of artificial mineral water.

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