Региональная идентичность крепостных в прошениях императору Павлу Первому
This article studies serf ideas about their regions at the turn of the nineteenth century. Paul I’s reforms changed Russian realities, especially affecting serfs, who became true imperial subjects and found new hope that landlord oppression was going to decrease. Although serf complaints about their masters remained formally prohibited, Paul himself examined more than a hundred during his reign. The author aims to reveal how serfs described their regions in petitions. In this article, serf regional identity in eighteenth-century Russia is examined for the first time. The study refers to published and unpublished materials from the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts and the Russian State Historical Archive, which contain legal proceedings on serf petitions filed to Paul I in 1797. That year saw a phenomenal increase in peasant unrest, as well as in serf petitions to the monarch. Entire communities often took part in drafting complaints. This study uses methods from regional history, including the analysis of mental maps, ideas about the region, and territorial identity. The author studies the structure of addresses in petitions, serf ideas about the administrative and territorial structure of the Russian Empire, and their reaction to Paul I’s provincial reform. The author also analyses how peasants described the world outside of their place of residence, developed their regional identity, and constructed collective memory. Additionally, the author identifies seven complaints whose authors were worried about the fate of their region. They represented the interests of historical regions and not administrative-territorial units. The author concludes that serfs considered themselves residents of a unified space meant for everyone under the rule of the emperor, not just for an autonomous estate.