Window on the East: National and Imperial Identities in Late Tsarist Russia (Paperback)
  • Window on the East: National and Imperial Identities in Late Tsarist Russia (Paperback)
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Window on the East: National and Imperial Identities in Late Tsarist Russia (Paperback)

(author)
£33.00
Paperback 408 Pages / Published: 03/09/2009
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Robert Geraci presents an exceptionally original account of both the politics and the lived experience of diversity in a society whose ethnic complexity has long been downplayed. For centuries, Russians have defined their country as both a multinational empire and a homogeneous nation-state in the making, and have alternately embraced and repudiated the East or Asia as fundamental to Russia's identity.

The author argues that the city of Kazan, in the middle Volga region, was the chief nineteenth-century site for mediating this troubled and paradoxical relationship with the East, much as St. Petersburg had served as Russia's window on Europe a century earlier. He shows how Russians sought through science, religion, pedagogy, and politics to understand and promote the Russification of ethnic minorities in the East, as well as to define themselves.

Vivid in narrative detail, meticulously argued, and peopled by a colorful cast including missionaries, bishops, peasants, mullahs, professors, teachers, students, linguists, orientalists, archeologists, and state officials, Window on the East uses previously untapped archival and published materials to describe the creation (sometimes intentional, sometimes unintentional) of intermediate and new forms of Russianness.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801476037
Number of pages: 408
Weight: 595 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"What does it mean to be Russian? . . . How do these identities arise and develop, how do they affect the identities of neighboring national groups' These are the central question considered by Robert Geraci's brilliant study of the Tatar-Russian city of Kazan in the nineteenth century. . . . A short review cannot do justice to the richness and breadth of this book. . . . More important than the breadth of sources, however, is the nuanced and intelligent use of these documents. The book truly integrates the sources into a compelling and engrossing narrative, spiked with illuminating analytical insights. Perhaps best of all, Geraci is a gifted writer whose precision and elegance of expression is exemplary."-Theodore R. Weeks, H-Russia, H-Net Reviews, November 2001


"Geraci's splendid book brings the story into the era of modern Russian nationalism, the dilemmas of modern empire, and the Islamic response to the pressures of European modernity. . . . Rich in detail and nuance, Geraci's book tells one much about Russian assumptions about themselves, the Muslim other, and empire. . . . This excellent book is . . . . free of jargon and easy to read. It fills a big gap in the history both of Russia's empire and of European empire in general."-Dominic Lieven, Slavic Review, Summer 2002


"The scholarship is sound and the work is rich with valuable insights."-Choice, February 2002


"Under the last three tsars, most educated Russians agreed that the assimilation of the empire's eastern 'aliens' (inorodsty) was either desirable, necessary, inevitable, or some combination of the three, but agreeing on particulars was more difficult. . . . Robert Geraci's fascinating book deftly exposes the complexity of this situation by examining the discussion on Russianness and assimilation that unfolded within the academic, missionary, and pedagogical circles of the Kazan region in the years between the 1860s and 1917. . . . His book is sophisticated, nuanced, and richly researched, and it should become a fundamental study of Russian nationality in the late Imperial era."-Willard Sunderland, Russian Review, October 2003


"Geraci's fascinating book uses a variety of well-documented analyses and examples to examine the ambiguities of nationality and assimilation in the late imperial period. He weaves material from local archives, contemporary periodicals, ethnographic texts, and memoirs to present a multilayered analysis of ethnic life in the Kazan region. . . . This thought-provoking and extremely well-written book should be on the reading list of anyone interested in the ambiguities created when nationality, identity, and the goals of empire intersect. Geraci raises a number of questions about Russianness and convincingly shows how assimilation was difficult to achieve and define."-Margaret Foley, Slavic and East European Journal, Winter 2003


"In a climate of Islamic religious revival combined with growing racial intolerance among the dominant, Christian nationality, how does a European government integrate its Muslim minorities' Citizens of France, Germany, and other contemporary Western states who are grappling with this question today will not be heartened by Window on the East, . . . Robert Geraci's thoughtful account of the Romanov autocracy's unsuccessful efforts to integrate its eastern ethnicities a century ago. . . . Geraci is not the only scholar to have written about these tsarist efforts to win the hearts and minds of Kazan's minorities, but his book extends far beyond educational policy by also examining the ways in which Russians perceived the region's nationalities through the lenses of 'Orientology' and ethnography."-David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Journal of Modern History, March 2004


"Robert Geraci's remarkable book is highly original in its revisionist approach to the final decades of the Russian Empire. Geraci brings to the debate much new archival evidence as well as a firm grounding in the available literature. Window on the East makes an outstanding contribution to the history of the social sciences and to the discussion of Orientalism and its vagaries in the Russian imperial setting."-Mark von Hagen, Columbia University

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