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Regular version of the site

Article

The “German” Reign of Empress Anna: Russia’s Disciplinary Moment?

Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. 2018. Vol. 19. No. 2. P. 363-384.

This article presents an attempt to reconsider the role of “Germans” in Russia in the 1730s by reconstructing the Pietist anthropological sensibilities of the key “German” ministers of Empress Anna Ioannovna. While these sensibilities did not necessarily translate into a coherently formulated policy program, it appears that they could be reflected in these ministers’ basic “administrative instincts,” in the ways in which they saw human nature and understood human interactions, and that this, in turn, shaped the policy choices they made at the helm of the Russian Empire. In particular, the article explores the reorganization of noble service, the promotion of education, and religious policies. Two themes are stressed: the focus on “interiorization” of obedience and the ways in which this focus drove a shift to developing more intrusive and systematic bureaucratic tools of observation, regulation, and assessment intended to effect this interiorization. From that point of view, the “German” ministers of the 1730s played a key role in extending the project of “Westernization” by actually stepping beyond the Petrine paradigm of “progress through coercion.”