From the “North of Russia” to the “Russian North”: Intellectual appropriation of the northern territories of the European part of Russia in the mid-18th — first half of the 19th centuries

Agapov M. G. From the “North of Russia” to the “Russian North”: Intellectual appropriation of the northern territories of the European part of Russia in the mid-18th — first half of the 19th centuries // The Russian Peasant Studies. 2024. V.9. №1. P. 23-38.

DOI: 10.22394/2500-1809-2024-9-1-23-38

Annotation

The normativity of the “Russian North” concept seems self-evident; however, it was introduced only in the mid-19th century and became an integral part of political discourse and everyday language only at the turn of the 19th — 20th centuries. The concept of “Russian North” had been developed in the works of Russian scientists, public figures and officials from the mid-18th to the first half of the 19th centuries, when the cultural construction of the territory implied connections based on both facts and fiction; thus, “Siberia”, “Caucasus”, “Russian North” and other “regions” became analytical categories. They were the result of a diverse set of intellectual operations (observation, description, comparison, systematization, differentiation, etc.) carried out by government officials, scientists and travelers, poets and philosophers. The cultural construction of the northern imperial periphery was inseparable from the cultural construction of the center, since observers from the center could hardly describe the main features of the periphery without simultaneously identifying their starting position. In the second half of the 18th century, the discourse about the Northern territory became a part of the Russian imperial cameralism with its special distribution of territories and their peoples according to the “scale of comparative civilization” (L. Wolff). In the second half of the 19th century, the Russification discourse became dominant, aiming at the radical reassembly of the imperial society as a single nation-state body. Thus, the “North of Russia” was reconsidered as the “Russian North”, which provided new grounds for the symbolic appropriation of the northern peoples’ territories.

Keywords

Northern Territory, Russian North, cameralism, imperial diversity, arable farming, Old-Believers, geography of power, Russification.

About the author

Mikhail G. Agapov, DSc (History), Leading Researcher, Center of Urban Studies, Tyumen State University. Volodarskogo St., Tyumen, 6625003.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The article was submitted on 18.12.2023.

 

Read 89 times Last modified on Apr 21 2024

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