Anatolii Remnev, the world’s leading specialist on nineteenth-century Siberia, devotes this interesting article to analysing official and public thinking about Siberian colonisation in the late imperial period.  A. Remnev sees the Great Siberian Migration that unfolded between the 1890s and the 1910s as an essential component of the “national construction of Russia,” the decisive development that allowed the Russian state to keep a firm hold on its vast Siberian hinterland—the “jewel in its imperial crown”—and, in the process, to ensure that the country remained a great power.  As he points out, this line of thinking was also precisely what predominated in the minds of Russia’s colonisation planners in the late imperial era.  Stolypin and his lieutenants wanted to “push Russia into Siberia” because they saw Siberia as the nation’s promising land of the future.  At the same time, they were concerned that if they didn’t Russianise Siberia, there was always the danger of the region either falling to foreigners or going its own way.  To A. Remnev, Russia’s continental geography made its imperial path fundamentally different from that of the maritime empires of Europe.  The seamlessness of the country meant that Siberia, though in some respects a colony, appeared more like an extension of Russia.  Consequently, the goal of Tsarist empire-builders in the late imperial period was not only to build the empire but just as much to expand the parameters of the Russian nation and attach Siberia more firmly to Russia.

Willard Sunderland, University of Cincinnati, OH
CER: I-3.2.C-219