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The Regionalist Conception of Siberia, 1860 to 1920

  • Stephen Watrous

Abstract

Siberia, in the early nineteenth century, was commonly regarded as a remote, isolated, stagnant backwater, ruled by powerful, despotic officials, and almost entirely cut off from the main currents of Western and Russian culture. By the end of the century this immense territory was gradually transformed into a more integral part of the Russian empire and of the world at large—economically, politically, and culturally. As part of this process, an emergent regional consciousness began to awaken Siberian society to the values and needs of the modern age. This awakening led Siberia’s chief advocates, the regionalists, to promote a specific identity and image for the region and for its place within the empire.

Keywords

Early Nineteenth Century Siberian Regionalism Siberian Population Regionalist Conception Mother Country 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    N. M. Iadrintsev, Sibir’ kak koloniia. K iubileiu trekhsotlietiia. Sovremennoe polozhenie Sibiri. Eia nuzhdy i potrebnosti. Eia proshloe i budushchee (St. Petersburg: Tipografiia M. M. Stasiulevicha, 1882; 2d, revised ed.: 1892).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Potanin added, however, that Siberia “by nature of its social questions stands alongside other border regions that have a foreign population, like the Caucasus, Finland, etc….” See G. N. Potanin, “Nikolai Mikhailovich Iadrintsev (Nekrolog),” Etnograficheskoe obozrienie 4 (1894): 171. In other words, all these borderlands differed significantly from the Great Russian center, one way or another.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    G. N. Potanin, “Zapiski,” Izvestiia Zapadno-Sibirskogo Otdela Russkogo Geograficheskogo Obshchestva 4, no. 1 (1924–25): 101; quoted inGoogle Scholar
  4. S. F. Koval’, “Kharakhter obshchestvennogo dvizheniia 60-kh godov XIX v. v Sibiri,” in Obshchestvenno-politicheskoe dvizhenie v Sibiri v 1861–1917 gg (Novosibirsk: Akademiia nauk SSSR, Sibirskoe otdelenie, 1967), p. 42, and in Istoriia Sibiri s drevneishikh vremen do nashikh dnei, vol. 3 (Sibir’ v epokhu kapitalizma) (Leningrad: Nauka, 1968), p. 142.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    S. G. Svatikov, Rossiia i Sibir’: K istorii sibirskogo oblastnichestva v XIX v. (Prague: Izdatel’stvo obshchestva sibiriakov v ChSR, 1930), p. 4.Google Scholar
  6. 26.
    Philip Wiegel, who visited Siberia in 1805–1806, had predicted that as “Russia” moved eastward with its peasantry, “Siberia” in turn would shrink; F. F. Vigel’, Zapiski Filipa Filipovicha Vigelia (Moscow: Russkii arkhiv, 1891–92), vol. 1, pt. 2, pp. 196–197. Such arguments run somewhat counter to the assertion that as of 1917–18 “Siberian regionalism had been developing during the previous decades, spurred by the enormous influx of immigrants from European Russia”; seeGoogle Scholar
  7. D. W. Treadgold, Twentieth Century Russia (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1976), p. 171.Google Scholar
  8. 29.
    Ibid., p. 52; and K. Dubrovskii, “Veteran sibirskoi obshchestvennosti,” in Rozhdennye v stranie izgnaniia (Petrograd: Viktoriia, 1916), p. 242.Google Scholar
  9. 30.
    The motto of the Siberian Regional Duma, inscribed on its walls, was: “The Regeneration of a Free Russia through an Autonomous Siberia.” On Potanin’s activities in 1917–1918, see I. A. lakushev, “Grigorii Nikolaevich Potanin. (Ego politicheskie vzgliady i obschestvenno-politicheskaia deiatel’ nost’),” Vol’naia Sibir 1 (1927): 37–41.Google Scholar

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© Galya Diment and Yuri Slezkine 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Watrous

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