Reviews

This article is interesting for Central Eurasian studies as far as its main concern is the mapping of ethnic boundaries in last Imperial Russia and the concomitant delimitation of a new scientific discipline.  After an overall statement on the way ethnic maps have to become major subjects of history, the author provides convincing explanations on the strong links existing in Russia between ethnic cartography and ethnography.  In this country, cartography remained a state-sponsored activity and accompanied the constant enlargement of this continental empire.  In the early seventeenth-century, a first “ethnic map” included notations on “ethnic lands” and indications (especially drawings) on indigenous populations living in the newly conquered territories.  But here is only the first of the three stages distinguished by the author in his brief history of ethnic cartography in Russia:  The period between the mid-nineteenth century and the 1940s marked the scientific development and modernisation of this traditional tool for knowledge.  With the creation, in 1944, of a laboratory for ethnic statistics inside the Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, ethnic cartography was promoted to the status of a discipline of its own.  The end of the article introduces successively the main archival institutions where most of these maps are preserved.  Some of them, the most precious ones, are described in detail at the very end—the author perfectly achieving one of his goals: to arouse our desire to look at some of them.

Xavier Le Torrivellec, National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations, Paris
CER: I-2.1-119