This study proposes many valuable insights into the constitution of ethnic and national identities, mostly through the census practice and its consequences, from the reform period to the eve of WWII. The first chapter (“L’Empire intégrateur, discriminatoire et colonisateur,” pp. 15-24) deals with the first discriminatory policies implemented against the Jews and other non-Russian groups, whilst Central Asia was opened to colonisation by mainly Russian and Orthodox settlers. Chapter Two (“Les cartes et les nombres,” 25-36) focuses on the counting of the populations, first by the military administration, and after 1858 by the Central Committee for Statistics. The third chapter (“Un Empire bien ordonné? Le recensement de 1897,” 37-61) is devoted to the first census of 1897, analysed in details (its organisation, the resistance of non-Russian and non-Orthodox populations. . .). In chapter four (“D’un régime politique à un autre: Catégorisations légales et nationalités à la fin de l’Empire, 1905-1914,” 61-90), the author discusses the various categories characterising the Tsar’s subjects (the sosloviia, the inorodetsy), their evolution towards growing ‘ethnicisation’. If this chapter looks into the role of the statisticians in the definition of national categories, chapter five (“Les ‘sciences des nationalités’ (1905-1917),” pp. 91-113) goes further into this question with an analysis of the role of ethnographers and of the imperial institutions (the Academy of Science, the Geographical Society. . .) in the gradual re-elaboration of ethnic categories. Chapter six (“La floraison des consciences nationales (1917-1929),” 115-42) focuses on the Bolshevik nationalities policy, their consequences on the definition of interregional borders, as well as the instrumentation and manipulation of these new categories by the populations themselves, and chapter seven (“À la recherche des nationalités soviétiques,” 143-71) deals with the census of 1926. The concluding chapter (“L’accélération de l’histoire (1929-1939)?,” 173-207) sheds light on the sovietisation of ethnography, the repression of some peculiar national groups, and the censuses of 1937 (unpublished) and 1939.
Cloé Drieu, School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, Paris