Imperia Romanovyh i nacionalizm. Esse po metodologii istoricheskogo issledovania

TitleImperia Romanovyh i nacionalizm. Esse po metodologii istoricheskogo issledovania
Publication TypePublication review
AuthorsFalina, Maria
Author(s) of reviewed materialMiller, Aleksei

Title translated:
The Romanov Empire and Nationalism. An essay on the methodology of a historical study

PublisherMoscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie
Review year


Full Text

This new book by Russian historian Aleksei Miller is not the classic monograph though it is certainly more than a collection of articles held together by the cover pages of the book. The main subject of this study, the relationship between the Romanov Empire and the various nationalisms of the peoples that populated the imperial territories, is addressed through the discussion of several seemingly diverse issues. These include language politics of the Imperial center, the “Jewish question,” the ways empire and nation were seen by Russian nationalists, and the concept and practice of Russification. Written in elegant Russian, Miller’s book examines interethnic relations within the Empire and represents an example of a new type of history of the Russian Empire that adds several valuable insights to the existent historiography.

The book is not based on much newly uncovered archival material, as they apparently proved unnecessary to achieve the aim of the enterprise, namely to rethink the ways of studying the history of the Romanov Empire. The author argues for an approach which he calls “the situation approach”, which would mean that, as opposed to the usually adopted regional approach, processes ought to be in our focus of attention, and the geographical limits should be set by the research subject. In Miller’s view such an approach allows to escape the major shortcomings of the regional approach (essentialisation of a region, neglect of actors outside the region under scrutiny, etc.) while keeping its benefits (attention to local actors, avoidance of empire- and nation-centric thinking). The chapters are organized around the processes of phenomena that are each important research subjects in the history of the Russian Empire, thereby this book not only calls for a new approach but sets an example in this vein as well.