Imperial Designs, Postimperial Extremes
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
Chapter 2: The Projects on Cossack Reform in the Russian Empire (1810s–1840s): Unification versus Flexibility
Chapter 3: Russian Army and the Ottoman Empire: Military Reform and Eastern Crisis
Chapter 4: Wartime Mobilization of Ethnicity, Shifting Loyalties, and Population Politics in the Borderlands of Nationalizing Empires: Reshaping Bessarabia and Bukovina (1914–1919)
Chapter 5: Painting Dogs into Racoons: Entertainment and Culture in the Gulag
Chapter 6: The Jewish Exodus to the Balkans 1933–1938
Chapter 7: Weathering the Storm, Toppled by the Storm: North Korea’s Non-Transition Compared with the Transition of Romania and Albania, 1989–1991