Taming The Wild Field: Colonization And Empire On The Russian Steppe by Willard SunderlandTaming The Wild Field: Colonization And Empire On The Russian Steppe by Willard Sunderland

Taming The Wild Field: Colonization And Empire On The Russian Steppe

byWillard Sunderland

Paperback | August 3, 2006

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Stretching from the tributaries of the Danube to the Urals and from the Russian forests to the Black and Caspian seas, the vast European steppe has for centuries played very different roles in the Russian imagination. To the Grand Princes of Kiev and Muscovy, it was the "wild field," a region inhabited by nomadic Turko-Mongolic peoples who repeatedly threatened the fragile Slavic settlements to the north. For the emperors and empresses of imperial Russia, it was a land of boundless economic promise and a marker of national cultural prowess. By the mid-nineteenth century the steppe, once so alien and threatening, had emerged as an essential, if complicated, symbol of Russia itself.

Traversing a thousand years of the region's history, Willard Sunderland recounts the complex process of Russian expansion and colonization, stressing the way outsider settlement at once created the steppe as a region of empire and was itself constantly changing. The story is populated by a colorful array of administrators, Cossack adventurers, Orthodox missionaries, geographers, foreign entrepreneurs, peasants, and (by the late nineteenth century) tourists and conservationists. Sunderland's approach to history is comparative throughout, and his comparisons of the steppe with the North American case are especially telling.

Taming the Wild Field eloquently expresses concern with the fate of the world's great grasslands, and the book ends at the beginning of the twentieth century with the initiation of a conservation movement in Russia by those appalled at the high environmental cost of expansion.

Willard Sunderland is Associate Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of The Baron's Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution and Taming the Wild Field: Colonization and Empire on the Russian Steppe, both from Cornell, and coeditor of Russia's People of Empire: Life Stories from Eura...
Title:Taming The Wild Field: Colonization And Empire On The Russian SteppeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.2 inPublished:August 3, 2006Publisher:Cornell University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801473470

ISBN - 13:9780801473470

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Steppe Building

1. Frontier Colonization
The Rus' Land and the Field
The Wild Field and the Tsardom
The Empire and the Steppe

2. Enlightened Colonization
Reason's Territory
Reason’s Process

3. Bureaucratic Colonization
The Vastness and the Nation
The Bureaucrats and the Settlers

4. Reformist Colonization
The System and the Peasants
The Pioneers and the Public

5. "Correct Colonization"
Colonizing Capacities and the Russian Element
The Dwindling Prairie and the Growing Borderland

Conclusion: Steppe Building and Steppe Destroying

Note on Archival Sources

Editorial Reviews

"Willard Sunderland's Taming the Wild Field is a much needed survey of the one thousand-year-long process by which the nomadic steppes north of the Black Sea were slowly turned into a land of Russian peasant farmers. Sunderland writes with elegance and wit. His research is thorough and wide-ranging, both within the central and provincial archives of Russia and Ukraine and in the broader comparative literature on imperialism and colonization."—David Christian, author of A History of Russia, Central Asia, and Mongolia