The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Ufa [Chris]

In 2013, Forbes ranked Ufa first in terms of business potential among Russian cities with over one-million residents. Yet for most of Ufa's history, the city was a backwater, a point along important trade routes but not decisive by itself. Ufa's trajectory in Russian history embodies the development of center-periphery relations in Russia more broadly. From the city's very founding in 1574 to its population's broad support of Pugachev's rebels in 1774, Ufa long maintained a rebellious potential; but one should not discount Ufa's accomplishments as an ally of Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, as Bashkir soldiers from the city marched on Paris alongside the Russian army in 1814, and Ufa played host to Russian civilians, artists, and industries evacuated eastward during World War II. Ufa's history, like Russia's, is not a straight line. Its relationship with the center is governed not by ancient hatreds between Bashkir Muslims and Orthodox Russians, but by ever-changing power dynamics between the regions and the center. 

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