The Tsar, the Empire, and the Nation

Dilemmas of Nationalization In Russia’s Western Borderlands, 1905–1915
cover of The Tsar, the Empire, and the Nation
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Publication date: 
May 2021, 370 pages

This collection of essays addresses the challenge of modern nationalism to the tsarist Russian Empire. First appearing on the empire’s western periphery, this challenge was most prevalent in twelve provinces extending from Ukrainian lands in the south to the Baltic provinces in the north, as well as to the Kingdom of Poland.

At issue is whether the late Russian Empire entered World War I as a multiethnic state with many of its age-old mechanisms run by a multiethnic elite, or as a Russian state predominantly managed by ethnic Russians. The tsarist vision of prioritizing loyalty among all subjects over privileging ethnic Russians and discriminating against non-Russians faced a fundamental problem: as soon as the opportunity presented itself, non-Russians would increase their demands and become increasingly separatist.

The authors found that although the imperial government did not really identify with popular Russian nationalism, it sometimes ended up implementing policies promoted by Russian nationalist proponents. Matters addressed include native language education, interconfessional rivalry, the “Jewish question,” the origins of mass tourism in the western provinces, as well as the emergence of Russian nationalist attitudes in the aftermath of the first Russian revolution.


Transformations of Imperial Nationality Policy

Anton Kotenko, Inconsistently Nationalizing State: The Romanov Empire and the Ukrainian National Movement

Darius Staliūnas, Challenges to Imperial Authorities’ Nationality Policy in the Northwest Region, 1905–15

Malte Rolf, What Is the “Russian Cause” and Whom Does It Serve? Russian Nationalists and Imperial Bureaucracy in the Kingdom of Poland

Confessions in the Crossfire

Vilma Žaltauskaitė, Interconfessional Rivalry in Lithuania after the Decree on Toleration

Chiho Fukushima, The Struggle between Confessional and Nationalist Groups for the Chełm-Podlasian Region: the 1905 Decree on Tolerance and Former Uniates

Transformations in Education

Yoko Aoshima, Native Language Education in the Western Border Regions around 1905

Kimitaka Matsuzato, Politics around Universal Education in Right-bank Ukraine in the Late Tsarist Period

Jolita Mulevičiūtė, To Sense an Empire: Russian Education Policy and the Origins of Mass Tourism in the Northwest Region

Olga Mastianica, The Formation of Imperial Loyalty in the Education System in the Northwest Region in 1905–1915

The Problem of the Russian Right

Vytautas Petronis, Right-Wing Russian Organizations in the City of Vil’na and the Northwestern Provinces, 1905–1915

Karsten Brüggemann, Defending the Empire in the Baltic Provinces: Russian Nationalist Visions in the Aftermath of the First Russian Revolution

Vladimir Levin, Russian Jews and the Russian Right: Why There Were no Jewish Right-Wing Politics in the Late Russian Empire?