The Romanov Empire and Nationalism

Essays in the methodology of historical research
$79.00 / €69.00 / £63.00
Publication date: 
250 pages

Russian historiography has been focused on the central state, to the power. The national historiographies of the peoples that were once part of the empire, on the other hand, concentrate on their own nation, and the empire for them is only a burdensome context in which a particular nation was “waking up,” and fighting for independence.

Miller addresses the fabric of interaction between the imperial authority and local communities in the Romanov empire. How did the authorities structure the space of the empire? What were the economic relations between the borderlands and the center? How was the use of different languages regulated? How did the central authorities and local officials implement policies regarding different population groups? How did the experience, acquired in particular borderlands, influence the policies elsewhere —among others—through officials who often changed their place of service during their careers? How did the local elites and communities react to the policies of the imperial authorities? How did they uphold their special interests if the empire encroached on them, but also—how did they collaborate with the empire and how did they use imperial resources for local interests?


Chapter 1. The History of the Russian Empire: in Search of a Scale and a Paradigm 

Chapter 2. Russification or Russifications?

Chapter 3. Identity and Loyalty in the Language Policy of the Romanov Empire at Her Western Borderland: the Case of Script and Alphabet

Chapter 4. The Romanov Empire and the Jews

Chapter 5. “Official Nationality”? A Reassessment of Count Sergei Uvarov’s Triad in the Context of Nationalism Politics

Chapter 6. The Empire and the Nation in the Imagination of Russian Nationalism

Chapter 7. The Testament for the All-Russian Idea


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"Alexei Miller offre une synthèse écrite avec une grande clarté du renouveau actuel des études sur le nationalisme russe et le système impérial aux XIX-XX siècles. Spécialiste de l'histoire de la relation entre l'État imperial et la langue ukrainienne, dont la diffusion fut censurée au XIX siècle, l'auteur est un des représentants les plus stimulants des nouvelles recherches sur l'empire de Russie qui tentent de réécrire l'histoire compliquée de l'empire dans ses différentes dimensions spatiales et politiques. Et au-delà d'une interrogation sur l'empire russe son fonctionnement, ses idéologies, ses dynamiques historiques, il dialogue avec la communauté des historiens qui aujourd'hui repense les notions d'empire et de nationalisme dans une perspective globale et transnationale."
"Miller is undoubtedly one of the best known historians who fundamentally changed our view of the Russian Empire within the last ten years. Since the publication of his book The Ukrainian Question, Miller has intensively studied the rise of nationalism in Russia during the nineteenth century. He has also been engaged in methodological reflections on how to write the history of a complex, heterogeneous multiethnic and poly-confessional state. The seven essays presented in this volume summarize much of Miller’s insights. Miller states his point at the outset: in the introduction, he calls for a close focus on the interaction of actors, for research on the mutuality / interrelatedness of various groups or individuals within changing hierarchies of power of a concrete historical settings. Miller calls this the 'situational approach' and emphasizes that binary models that have shaped imperial history for so long simplify the issue."
"At the core of Miller's book is what he call 'the situational approach', which he constructs as an alternative to both nationalist narratives - which typically reduce complex relationships to a simplistic opposition between imperial authority and local communities - and a regional paradigm - which often marginalises the imperial centre excessively and uncritically accepts the existence of regions as natural geographic units. Miller's situational approach compels the researcher to focus on a particular historical process - a 'situation' - and to identify on that basis the geographical scope of the problem, the specific actors involved, and the comparisons that will prove most illuminating... Miller strikes an admirable balance between the imaginative dimensions of the historical process (e.g. ideology and identity) and concrete policies and material practices that shaped the lives of subjects and statesmen in more direct ways."
"The chapters range broadly in their specific focus, including essays on Russification, language policy, Romanov policy toward Jews, Uvarov’s concepts and practices of “official nationality,” mental maps of Russian nationalism, and an analysis of police memoranda on nationality questions during World War I. Most of his arguments are highly original and provocative. In short, all scholars of nationality and empire in East Europe, Russia, and elsewhere will find much to challenge them in this book."
"The primary contribution of the book is its methodological critique of the existing historiography and its often silent presuppositions. The attempt top shape a more balanced image of the Russian empire and its interactions with ethnic minorities is commendable, especially these days, when history and politics are easily confused. In this connection Miller's recommendation to use a comparative approach that questions the prevalent image of Russia as unique is specifically pertinent."
"A significant book that belongs on the shelf of anyone working seriously on the history of late imperial Russia. Throughout, the essays are of high quality, well documented, and thought provoking."