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You are here Undergraduate > Single Honors History > Empire and Environment in Russia from Peter I to Gorbachev

Empire and Environment in Russia from Peter I to Gorbachev

This module explores the relationship between empire and environment in Russia from the reign of Peter I until the end of the Soviet period. How did Russian imperial expansion transform people’s lives and livelihoods? Was there a link between Russia’s natural environment and the country’s long history of autocratic rule? How can we reconcile the country’s natural bounty with histories of extreme pollution and environmental decline? And how can the unsettling annexation of Crimea in 2014 be situated into Russian histories of empire and environment? 

  • Module Coordinator:
    • Dr Katja Bruisch
  • Duration:
    • All year 
  • Contact Hours:
    • 3 hours per week
  • Weighting:
    • 20 ECTS
  • Assessment:
    • 40% essay, 60% examination

During this module, we will discuss the connection between political, social and environmental developments in Eurasia over the past three hundred years. Using translated primary sources, we will follow explorers, hunters and animals through the spaces of the expanding Russian Empire; we will study how the extraction of resources and the construction of infrastructure served the interests of social elites and transformed local environments; and we will look at how people responded to such changes. Topics include the Russian conquest of the Far East, Crimea and Central Asia; hunting and extinction; center-periphery relations in imperial and Soviet Russia; peasant and nomadic livelihoods during Stalinism; the GULAG and environmental change; the Virgin Land Campaign; Cold War environmental diplomacy; environmental disaster and the end of the Soviet Union (Chernobyl, Aral Sea).