Russia's Steppe Frontier
Now in paperback!

Russia's Steppe Frontier

The Making of a Colonial Empire, 1500-1800
Michael Khodarkovsky
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/23/2004
Format: paper 304 pages, 16 b&w photos, 10 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21770-7
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“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

“. . . the first connected account of Moscow’s assertion of military and political control over its steppe frontier. The book’s scope is impressive, as it traces the transformation of a turbulent steppe frontier into an imperial borderland. . . . a signal contribution to our understanding of European history.” —American Historical 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.

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.


"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." —N. M. Brooks, New Mexico State University , Choice , September 2002

"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." —

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Table of Contents

1. The Sociology of the Frontier, or Why Peace Was Impossible
2. Frontier Concepts and Policies in Muscovy
3. Taming the "Wild Steppe," 1480-1600s
4. From Steppe Frontier to Imperial Borderlands, 1600-1800
5. Concepts and Policies in the Imperial Borderlands, 1690s-1800

List of Abbreviations