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Article

From Common Rocks to Valuable Industrial Resources: Limestone in Nineteenth-century Russia

Focusing on the accelerated use of limestone as a building material in Russia, and government sponsored scientific studies of widespread limestone deposits throughout the nineteenth-century, this contribution investigates the process of transforming common rocks into measurable and valuable natural resources indispensable for actualizing industrial development on a national scale. Special attention is given to the production of a new body of expert knowledge on the specific properties, qualities and practical uses of raw stone materials, to the actors involved in producing this knowledge, and to their crucial role in forming a scientific support system for the mining and construction industries, which gradually developed an institutional hierarchy in its own right. One of the important points of the article is, on the one hand, to show that scientific engagement with the material was closely interrelated to ‘resource nationalism’ policies that became an influential driving force of material sciences institutionalization on the national scale. On the other hand, it is argued that the international circulation of knowledge, technics, and standardization of testing procedures also greatly influenced that process.