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CREES Noon Lecture. “Normalizing Russia: The Empire Effect."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
12:00 AM
1636 International Institute/SSWB, 1080 S. University

Jane Burbank, professor of history and Russian and Slavic studies, New York University. Sponsor: CREES.

Before and after 1917, before and after 1991, Russia has been considered a strange kind of state. Friends and foes of communism, as well as critics of post-Soviet Russia, find that Russia refuses to follow the norms of state organization and international conduct, some think for the better, but most others for the worse. Russian citizens themselves regard many aspects of their lives and government as “not normal,” and look outside their borders for models of how things ought to work. In this talk, Professor Burbank suggests that these views of Russia’s exceptionalism can be superseded by adopting a more worldly, less Euro-centric frame of analysis. A focus on empires, rather than nation-states, exposes the diversity of governing cultures across time and space, and can both liberate Russia from the straightjacket of “western” standards and explain some of the “mysteries” of its political practices.

Jane Burbank is Collegiate Professor and Professor of History and Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University. She is the author of Intelligentsia and Revolution: Russian Views of Bolshevism, 1917-1922 and Russian Peasants Go to Court: Legal Culture in the Countryside, 1905-1917, and co-editor of Imperial Russia: New Histories for the Empire and Russian Empire: Space, People, Power 1700-1930. Her latest book, written with Frederick Cooper, Empires and the Politics of Difference in World History, received the 2011 World History Association Book Prize. She is working on a study of law, sovereignty, and political affiliation in Kazan province from 1870 to 1917.