Imperial Designs, Postimperial Extremes

Studies in Interdisciplinary and Comparative History of Russia and Eastern Europe
$85.00 / €81.00 / £69.00
Publication date: 
294 pages

Anchored in the Russian Empire, but not limited to it, the eight studies in this volume explore the nineteenth-century imperial responses to the challenge of modernity, the dramatic disruptions of World War I, the radical scenarios of the interwar period and post-communist endgames at the different edges of Eurasia. The book continues and amplifies the historiographic momentum created by Alfred J. Rieber’s long and fruitful scholarly career.

First, the volume addresses the attempts of Russian imperial rulers and elites to overcome the economic backwardness of the empire with respect to the West. The ensuing rivalry of several interest groups (entrepreneurs, engineers, economists) created new social forms in the subsequent rounds of modernization. The studies explore the dynamics of the metamorphoses of what Rieber famously conceptualized as a “sedimentary society” in the pre-revolutionary and early Soviet settings.

Second, the volume also expands and dwells on the concept of frontier zones as dynamic, mutable, shifting areas, characterized by multi-ethnicity, religious diversity, unstable loyalties, overlapping and contradictory models of governance, and an uneasy balance between peaceful co-existence and bloody military clashes. In this connection, studies pay special attention to forced and spontaneous migrations, and population politics in modern Eurasia.

Introduction: The Rieber Momentum in Historiography
Andrei Cușco and Victor Taki                                                                      

Chapter 1: Forests, Navies, and Entangled Empires: Timber Export and Territorial Governance in Russia in the Eighteenth to Early Nineteenth Century
Marina Loskutova

Chapter 2: The Projects on Cossack Reform in the Russian Empire (1810s–1840s): Unification versus Flexibility
Andriy Posunko

Chapter 3: Russian Army and the Ottoman Empire: Military Reform and Eastern Crisis
Victor Taki 

Chapter 4: Wartime Mobilization of Ethnicity, Shifting Loyalties, and Population Politics in the Borderlands of Nationalizing Empires: Reshaping Bessarabia and Bukovina (1914–1919)
Andrei Cușco

Chapter 5: Painting Dogs into Racoons: Entertainment and Culture in the Gulag
Oksana Ermolaeva

Chapter 6: The Jewish Exodus to the Balkans 1933–1938
Bojan Aleksov

Chapter 7: Weathering the Storm, Toppled by the Storm: North Korea’s Non-Transition Compared with the Transition of Romania and Albania, 1989–1991
Balazs Szalontai


“The topic of Russia as ‘empire’ or ‘nation-state’ refuses—unfortunately—to exit the world’s political agenda. That being the case, the diverse but consistently valuable and interesting essays contained in this collection will help scholars in history, political science, and international relations to make sense of Russian and other imperial situations. The volume contains extremely diverse contributions both geographically (from Russia to North Korea to the Balkans) and chronologically (from the early 19th century to the end of the USSR). The connecting thread here is that all of the authors were students of the distinguished professor of Russian history Alfred J. Rieber. Highly recommended.”