Accepted paper:

Imperial landscapes in late nineteenth - early twentieth century Eurasia: Kazan on the Volga


Gulchachak Nugmanova (Research Institute of Theory and History of Architecture and Town Pkanning)

Paper abstract:

This paper explores the creation of imperial image of Kazan, the former capital of the Kazan khanate separated from the Golden Horde. Conquered by Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible in 1552, it symbolized Russian empire's beginning. I argue that region's distant past played a great role in representation of empire in the emerging urban landscape of the 19th - early 20th century imperial city of Kazan. The imperial idea of state greatness inspired the government of Catherine the Great to start an ambitious project of transformation of the medieval structures of all Russian cities. The architectural model of an imperial city was first materialized in absolute terms during the construction of the new capital of St.-Petersburg. Since the second half of the 18th century, it was implemented by the government on the vast expanse of the rest of Russia through strict regulation of building including the artistic styles of the edifices. I consider how the state vision of an imperial city was realized, paying particular attention to the city center and Tatar quarters. Tatars-Muslims with their own architectural and planning traditions, and their own points of historical memory formed a significant part of the population of the city. I wonder how these traditions interacted with state norms and legislation; what tools and approaches the authorities on the one hand, and local population on the other, used for the success of the imperial project of modern city and resolution of the cultural conflicts. Local historical and architectural monuments are also the focus of my attention, with the kremlin viewed by the official St.-Petersburg as a captured Tatar fortress at the center. Russian power appropriated the Kazan past physically embodying the city's history and using it in representative purposes. I show that the process of urban transformation in 19th century Kazan fully reflected the essence of the empire itself. This paper, which is an attempt to comprehend the urban process in late imperial Kazan, is based on archival materials from the National Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan and author's published materials concerning the construction history of some city buildings and ensembles.

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