2013 Ralph and Ruth Fisher Forum
Early Russian itineraries : movement and the space of the russian empire
Friday June 14th, 2013 - Sunday June 16th, 2013
Levis Center, 919 West Illinois Street, Urbana, Illinois 61801
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The Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is pleased to present the 2013 Ralph and Ruth Fisher Forum. To be held in Urbana, Illinois on Friday June 14th through Sunday June 16th, 2013. This year’s conference, “Early Russian Itineraries” will focus on the production of Russian space by bringing to the fore the movement and circulation of material objects, peoples and ideas within and across the empire. The chronological focus of this event will be on the long eighteenth century (1650-1825).
Though absolute properties of Russian geography—most notably, the constraints placed on human action by Russia’s size, climate, and position in global state systems—are frequently invoked in accounts of Russia’s history, relatively few studies have attempted to think through the communicative processes involved in the making of Russia as space. As a result, to borrow the words of the 19th century human geographer Paul Vidal de la Blache, “one pictures the earth as ‘the stage upon which man’s [sic] activities take place,’ without reflecting that the stage itself is alive.” This is perhaps especially true of the medieval and early modern formation of the Russian empire, whose communicative geography and system of human-made relations remain understudied. This is particularly to be regretted, because without an understanding of movement, we lack a clear picture of the making of Russian imperial space: the genesis, reach, and footprint of imperial culture, politics, and society. “We produce and reproduce space through our movements,” Richard White has argued: this conference seeks to situate our stories about the making imperial Russian life within such an expanded, process-oriented understanding of space.
This conference will seek to grapple with the most basic questions of physical movement and will make attempts to illuminate simple empirical questions such as: What exactly was being moved? Where did it go? How was it moved, how often and by whom? To what extent were new or existing patterns of movement bound up with the emergence of empire in Russian life? What influence did these patterns have on Russia’s political, social or cultural positions in the world? To what extent can such spatial analysis help us rethink issues of continuity, change and difference in Russian history, across both international and chronological divides? Sustained comparative and interdisciplinary dimensions will be pursued in panel discussions; situating Russia’s movement systems within broader histories and cultures of movement. Additionally, an objective of this conference is to create new frameworks for scholarship on medieval and early imperial Russian history.
Please contact co-organizers Rachel Koroloff (email@example.com) or Dr. John Randolph (firstname.lastname@example.org), with any questions about this event.
Dr. John Randolph (Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Rachel Koroloff (Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
This event is sponsored by the Russian, East European and Eurasian Center at the University of Illinois with partial support provided by the Department of Education Title VI National Resource Centers Program.