Reviews

An interesting contribution to Russian Empire studies, this article uses Richard Wortman’s cultural history as a model and endeavours to analyse elite Kazakh deputations to St. Petersburg and related ceremonies as “scenarios of power” with specific purposes and symbolic values for the Russian state and the Kazakh participants.  A. Remnev (Professor of History at Omsk State University) and O. Sukhikh (Remnev’s student, who recently defended her candidate dissertation) characterise the changes to substance of communications between the Russian centre and steppe elites from the late sixteenth to the late nineteenth century.  Methods evolved from early visits of diplomats and the practice of retaining “hostages” to ensure loyalty (amanatstvo) through the mid-eighteenth century, to invitations to Kazakhs (and requests by Kazakhs) to have audience with the Tsar (and later, to attend coronations) in St. Petersburg, which began in the mid-eighteenth century and continued through the Imperial period.  The authors interpret evidence found in selected archival records to glean Kazakh motivations in different eras and regions, but there is not enough here to conclude anything convincingly about why Kazakhs made these trips and what they meant as “scenarios of power” within Kazakh society itself.  On the other hand, the article does present a fine analysis of Russia’s use of ceremonies as symbolic legitimiser of its power and imperial identity in the Kazakh steppe.  Valuable quotations from archival and other primary sources supplement careful reading of recent Western and Russian literature.  Clearly, Russian Empire studies benefits greatly from the work being done by Remnev and his protégés (including Elena Bezvikonnaia) in Omsk.

Virginia Martin, University of Wisconsin, Madison
CER: I-3.4.A-261