HIST 163: Russia and Empire
To borrow from Dostoevsky, Russia has always been beset by a series of “accursed questions” centered around its place in the world: What does it mean to be Russian? What is the good society in the Russian context? Is Russia “European” and “Western,” or “Asian” and “Oriental”? To which Lenin added the question: “What is to be done?” This course is meant to introduce students to these questions—and questions of global citizenship and identity—through the lens of empire. The story of Russian development is a story of imperial conquest. This is true whether we are talking about the rise of Muscovy against the backdrop and patronage of the Golden Horde, or the development of the Soviet Union to global imperial pretentions. Russians imagined Russia in imperial contexts and have understood themselves primarily within imperial narratives. We will unpack these historical narratives as a means of investigating the interdependent nature of the global system and the consequences of this interdependence for local and global communities.