CREES Lecture - "The First Russian Voyage Around the World (1803-1806), as described in German Sources"
Victoria Moessner, professor of German, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The first Russian expedition around the world (1803-1806) sailed from Kronstadt to Copenhagen, Falmouth, Tenerife, Brazil, Nuku Hiva, Kamchatka, Japan, China, St. Helena, Scotland, Copenhagen back to Kronstadt. The expedition collected important scientific, ethnographic, nautical, and political information. This presentation is based on German-language sources, in particular, the drawings and watercolors found in the diary kept by Hermann Ludwig von Löwenstern, the fourth officer on the lead ship under Adam Johann von Krusenstern. It will also discuss continuing debates over Russia's first ambassador to Japan, Nikolai Rezanov.
Victoria Moessner discussed the first Russian maritime voyage around the world, at the beginning of the 19th century, through a variety of German-language accounts written by some of the sailors. Baltic Germans like Hermann Ludwig von Loewenstern (who came from modern-day Estonia) occupied a prominent position in the tsarist empire, and he personally had a leading role in the voyage; Moessner relied particularly on his diaries to describe the journey. Her lecture chronicled their travels in the South Pacific and Japan, Kamchatka and China, and pointed out occasional tensions among the deputation's members (particularly between von Lowenstern and Nikolai Rezanov).
The discussion period included personal reflections on Prof. Moessner's own experiences of these places (she has partially retraced the path of this voyage); the issue of local memories of Russian visitors that exist, even now, 200 years later; and the categories through which the sailors saw themselves in relation to the societies they encountered.
Summary prepared by Douglas Northrop, director, Center for Russian and East European Studies