Canvas Empire: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

How We Work

Space is an extraordinarily productive lens to turn on the archive of an empire. It comes along with an extraordinarily productive set of analytical tools - tools that tend to feel a bit cumbersome in the hands of the historian. At least at first. In time, with practice and through refinement, the tools of spatial analysis just might prove to be among the most useful spades and scalpels we have at our disposal. If our aim is to expose the inner workings of an empire, we could surely do worse than to begin by asking "where" as well as "when" and "why."

The Imperiia Project aims to create a version of the Russian Empire you can see as well as one you can imagine. We want to collapse the distance between the archive and the audience. We want you to be able to interact with both the stories we want to tell, and the raw data we use to craft those stories. We want to convince you that it is the work of mapping, rather than the map itself, that matters.

Guiding Principles

1. We work in a lab environment. We embrace experimentation. We actively try to “break” things in order to build them with better success the next time around. 

2. We balance ambition with restraint. Yes, we want to change the world, but we are taking it one step at a time.

3. Our approach integrates disciplinary, regional, and technical expertise

4. We collaborate with each other, across the university, and beyond the university. 

5. We celebrate the concept of multi-use work. Because the data collection phase requires significant time and resources, we make sure that investment can be converted into multiple products with multiple audiences in mind.

Workflows

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