The formation of Russian imperialist ideas has been a long and multifaceted process, shaped by encounters with other groups and societies since the Middle Ages. Those “Others” were often peoples foreign to Russians, but as the empire gradually expanded, many of them became its internal minorities.
The complicated relationship of Russianness with “Otherness” is examined in a newly published volume co-edited by Docent of Russian History Kati Parppei from the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies of the University of Eastern Finland. The topical book, published by Academic Studies Publishers (US), covers a time span of four hundred years and provides background for the formation of contemporary ideas of collective Russianness and its manifestations.
Further, the volume brings into focus the processes of assimilation and integration, applied by Russian administration to the peoples residing in the areas the empire expanded to, such as Siberia and the Caucasus. While the current regime of Russia blames “the West” for colonial practices, it categorically refuses to critically assess the Russian empire’s goals and activities, often equally toned by colonial exploitation.
As social and political tensions arose at the turn of the twentieth century, the empire aimed to consolidate inner cohesion by creating enemy images and stereotypes of hostile “Others.” Simultaneously, harsh propaganda was actively produced on and by competing political groups and actors. As the case studies presented in the book indicate, the borders between “Us” and the “Others” are and have always been porous and fluctuating.
The volume consists of fifteen chapters authored by researchers from the United States, Germany, Finland and Russia. The first section examines how ethnic and religious “Others” were represented and depicted in the fifteenth-seventeenth century Muscovite sources. The second section focuses on the representations of minorities, such as Tatars, Oirats and Jews, in the expanding empire from the seventeenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. The theme of the third section are the images of “Otherness” in the empire facing multiplying and intertwining crises at the turn of the twentieth century. All the sections are preceded by summaries authored by world-renowned experts of each theme.
Kati Parppei, Bulat Rakhimzianov (eds.). Images of Otherness in Russia, 1547-1917. Academic Studies Press (2023).
Photo: A Lubok print dramatizing the Russo-Japanese war from 1904.
For further information, please contact:
University Lecturer Kati Parppei, +358 50 531 3543, kati.parppei(at)uef.fi
The book on the publisher website: