Threads of Empire

Threads of Empire

Loyalty and Tsarist Authority in Bashkiria, 15521917
Charles Steinwedel
Distribution: World
Publication date: 4/15/2016
ISBN: 978-0-253-01933-2
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Threads of Empire examines how Russia’s imperial officials and intellectual elites made and maintained their authority among the changing intellectual and political currents in Eurasia from the mid-16th century to the revolution of 1917. The book focuses on a region 750 miles east of Moscow known as Bashkiria. The region was split nearly evenly between Russian and Turkic language speakers, both nomads and farmers. Ufa province at Bashkiria’s core had the largest Muslim population of any province in the empire. The empire’s leading Muslim official, the mufti, was based there, but the region also hosted a Russian Orthodox bishop. Bashkirs and peasants had different legal status, and powerful Russian Orthodox and Muslim nobles dominated the peasant estate. By the 20th century, industrial mining and rail commerce gave rise to a class structure of workers and managers. Bashkiria thus presents a fascinating case study of empire in all its complexities and of how the tsarist empire’s ideology and categories of rule changed over time.

Author Bio

Charles Steinwedel is Associate Professor of History at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.


"An original and well-researched study of the incorporation of the Bashkir lands and their transformation into a Russian imperial region over the course of three and a half centuries. Steinwedel argues that the history of Bashkiria exposes a number of the empire’s achievements as a multiethnic society. . . . He draws out both important shifts and abiding continuities in the history of the region [and] by employing a multi-dimensional approach, covering a range of intersecting topics, provides a fuller appreciation for the region. He also does a nice job pointing out the useful commonalities and differences between the Bashkir lands and other parts of the empire, making a compelling case for Bashkiria’s importance for understanding larger processes." —Willard Sunderland, author of Taming the Wild Field: Colonization and Empire on the Russian Steppe

"Charles Steinwedel has produced an engaging and thoroughly documented history of both the Bashkirs and the multiethnic territory of Bashkiria." —Canadian-American Slavic Studies

"Based on outstanding research, Charles Steinwedel’s impressive new book offers a study of the

history of Bashkiria in the context of the Russian Empire." —
The Russian Review

"Charles Steinwedel has written a well-researched study which makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the way the Russian empire functioned." —European History Quarterly

"Highly recommended." —Choice

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
1. Steppe Empire, 1552–1730
2. Absolutism and Empire, 1730–1775
3. Empire of Reason, 1773–1855
4. Participatory Empire, 1855–1881
5. The Empire and the Nation, 1881–1904
6. Empire in Crisis, 1905–1907
7. Empire, Nations, and Multinational Visions, 1907–1917