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Regular version of the site

Article

Territory, enclosure, and state territorial mode of production in the Russian imperial periphery

Geographica Helvetica. 2019. Vol. 74. No. 1. P. 13-25.

After the imperial land consolidation acts of 1906, the Russian land commune became a center of territorial struggle where complex alliances of actors, strategies, and representations of territory enacted land enclosure beyond the exclusive control of the state. Using original documentation of Russian imperial land deals obtained in the federal and municipal archives, this study explores how the Russian imperial state and territories in the periphery were dialectically co-produced not only through institutional manipulations, educational programs, and resettlement plans but also through political and public discourses. This paper examines how coalitions of landed nobility and land surveyors, landless serfs, and peasant proprietors used enclosure as conduits for property violence, accumulation of capital, or, in contrast, as a means of territorial autonomy. Through this example, I bring a territorial dimension into Russian agrarian scholarship by positioning the rural politics of the late imperial period within the global context of capitalist land enclosure. At the same time, by focusing on the reading of territory from the Russian historical perspective, I introduce complexity into the modern territory discourse often found in Western political geographic interpretations.