Russia's Steppe Frontier

Russia's Steppe Frontier

The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500-1800
Michael Khodarkovsky
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/15/2004
Format: Paperback 16 b&w photos, 10 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21770-7
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Description

... a tremendously important contribution to the field of Russian history and the comparative study of empires and frontiers. There is no comparable work in any language.... The book presents an intricate and gripping narrative of a vast sweep of histories, weaving them together into a comprehensive and comprehensible chronology." —Valerie Kivelson

From the time of the decline of the Mongol Golden Horde to the end of the 18th century, the Russian government expanded its influence and power throughout its southern borderlands. The process of incorporating these lands and peoples into the Russian Empire was not only a military and political struggle but also a contest between the conceptual worlds of the indigenous peoples and the Russians. Drawing on sources and archival materials in Russian and Turkic languages, Michael Khodarkovsky presents a complex picture of the encounter between the Russian authorities and native peoples.

Russia’s Steppe Frontier is an original and invaluable resource for understanding Russia’s imperial experience.

Author Bio

Michael Khodarkovsky is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University of Chicago. He is author of Where Two Worlds Met: The Russian State and the Kalmyk Nomads, 1600-1771 and co-editor (with Robert Geraci) of Of Religion and Empire: Missions, Conversion, and Tolerance in the Russian Empire.

Reviews

““Khodarkovsky provides a detailed chronological narrative of Russia’s steppe relations, which conveys brilliantly the depth of Moscow’s engagement in the world of steppe politics. . . . This is counterbalanced by insightful thematic discussion of the perennial issues involved. . . . Altogether, an excellent study of a vital dimension of Russia’s historical evolution.” —Slavonic and East European Review Drawing on sources and archival materials in Russian and Turkic languages, Russia’s Steppe Frontier presents a complex picture of the encounter between indigenous peoples and the Russians. An original and invaluable resource for understanding Russia’s imperial experience.”

“"Michael Khodarkovsky enriches the story of empire, usually told from the point of view of the imperial power, by moving across the frontier to discover the attitudes and actions of the steppe peoples. In a vivid account of the confrontation between an expanding state and nomadic tribes, he relates how the largest land empire of modern times was built, how frontiers were turned into borderlands and eventually incorporated into the imperial state. . . . Here Khodarkovsky consolidates his long-established reputation as the premier historian of the Russian frontier." —Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago Drawing on sources and archival materials in Russian and Turkic languages, Michael Khodarkovsky draws a complex picture of the encounter between the Russian authorities and border peoples from the decline of the Mongol Golden Horde to the end of the 18th century. Not surprisingly, both sides viewed the other through the distorted lenses of their own societies, but what they saw had important consequences for the evolution of the Russian Empire and the fate of the indigenous peoples.”

“No other work treats Moscow's colonial expansion to the south and east so competently. The story of Slavic expansion and acquisition alone would make the volume indispensable to the early modern Russian historian. What makes Khodarkovsky's book most significant, however, is the voice he gives to the peoples of the steppe.”
 — Russia

“This innovative and fascinating book examines the relationship between Russia and its neighbors on the Eurasian steppe, which stretches from the northern Caucasus area into the Central Asian region of present-day Kazakhstan, from about 1500 to 1800. During these formative years, Russia's continual southern expansion into the borderlands helped transform it from a fragmented and weak frontier society into a formidable colonial empire. Kohdarkovsky (Loyola Univ.) considers the complex relationship between the Russian state and the indigenous nomadic and seminomadic societies that inhabited the steppe, emphasizing their fundamental differences in social organization, political and economic structures, and values. The author argues that Russia's southward expansion was, contrary to commonly accepted views, a deliberate process designed to colonize the new regions and to subdue their inhabitants. However, Russia's policies gradually changed during these three centuries from defending its vulnerable frontier against nomadic incursions to deliberate colonization by means of pacifying, settling, and converting the new subjects to Orthodox Christianity. Recommended for advanced undergraduates and above.September 2002”
 — N. M. Brooks, New Mexico State University

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Table of Contents

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