People or Territory?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, IWM library

Books in perspective series / Russia in Global Dialogue

“Internal Colonization: Russia’s Imperial Experience” (Cambridge: Polity 2011) offers an original interpretation of Russia’s cultural history. Looking into how the Russian Empire conquered and domesticated foreign territories, thereby colonizing many peoples, including Russians, Alexander Etkind brings out the formative role of foreign colonies in Russia, the self-colonizing discourse of Russian classical historiography, and the revolutionary leaders’ illusory hopes for an alliance with the exotic, pacifist sectarians. Starting with the fur trade, which shaped its enormous territory, and ending with Russia’s collapse in 1917, Etkind explores serfdom, the peasant commune, and other institutions of internal colonization. Transcending the boundaries between history and literature, Etkind reminds us of striking writings about Russia’s imperial experience, from Defoe to Tolstoy and from Gogol to Conrad.

Praise for “Internal Colonization: Russia’s Imperial Experience”:

“The cumulative power of Etkind’s argument constitutes an impressive scholarly achievement, offering a coherent yet richly detailed account of Russia’s centuries-long experience of internal colonisation.”
Times Higher Education

“Not only useful but also very enjoyable…It is safe to consider this as one of the best books of 2011 in its category and it will definitely have an impact on Russian studies for many years to come.”
Journal of Eurasian Studies

“An exhaustingly original book, beautifully written and crafted so as to be eminently quotable. It will stand for decades to come as the central volume in the larger debates on empire.”
Nancy Condee, University of Pittsburgh

Author’s words:
Alexander Etkind
Reader in Russian Literature and Cultural History at King’s College, Cambridge
Ivan Krastev
Chair of the Board, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia; Permanent Fellow, IWM
Svetlana Boym
Reisinger Professor of Comparative Literature and Associate of Harvard School of Design and Architecture at Harvard University

Part of IWM’s Russia in Global Dialogue Program