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Book discussion: Russian Practices of Governance in Eurasia. Frontier Power Dynamics, 16th Century to 19th Century (Routledge, 2020) by Gulnar Kendirbai  
Gulnar Kendirbai (International University of Information Technologies)
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Gulmira Sultangalieva (Al-Farabi Kazakh national university)
Dmitry Vasilyev (Moscow City University)
207 (floor 2)
Thursday 6 June, -
Time zone: Asia/Almaty


The book opens new venues for researching and understanding the spread of Russian imperial rule in the formative period of the rise of the Russian Empire (the mid-16th to the beginning of the 19th centuries). Geographically, this period encompassed the vast Eurasian terrain inhabited mainly by the Turkic- and Mongolian-speaking nomadic populations. Historians’ discussion of this period has been primarily focused on the paradigm of Mongol Yoke or the degree of the Mongol impact on the rise of the Russian Empire, which tends to overshadow the complexity of the Russian imperial enterprise.

The author scrutinizes the workings of the Russian protectorate system on which imperial authorities embarked to establish relations with their Kazakh, Kalmyk, and other non-Russian counterparts. Spelled out by norms of steppe political culture, the system's workings operated as a flexible institutional framework, enabling all sides to derive maximum benefits from a given political situation, thus facilitating these non-Russian populations’ subsequent integration into imperial Russian structures. The book demonstrates that interactions of Russian authorities with their Kalmyk and Kazakh counterparts during the mid-16th to the mid-19th centuries were strongly informed by the power dynamics of the Inner Asian frontiers. The author argues that acquiring a more nuanced picture of the empire’s formative period is crucial for a better understanding later developments.