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Regular version of the site

Article

Imperial Citizenship and Political Representation in the Russian Empire, 1905–1906

Ab imperio. 2021. No. 2. P. 139-152.

The introduction to the archival documents published in this issue of Ab Imperio frames the broad context of the political reform of 1905–1906 in the Russian Empire and highlights the imperial dimension in the elabora- tion of the first electoral law (the Bulygin Duma law). The authors explore the multisided and layered nature of political conflicts as well as divergent political imaginaries with regard to the institution of political representation in the ranks of the imperial bureaucracy. In particular, the text explicates the nationalizing and colonializing imaginary of social engineering that guided the work of Sergey Kryzhanovskii on electoral principles and mecha- nisms. That imaginary stood in contradiction to the vision and practice of imperial citizenship that was shared by more senior officials in the central government of the empire such as Count Dmitry Sol’skii and Count Illarion Vorontsov-Dashkov. The concept of imperial citizenship can be traced to the Great Reforms of the 1860s, which created the universalizing framework of norms and institutions for diverse space and groups of population in the empire. At the same time, the political logic of the Great Reforms allowed the incorporation of imperial particularisms into universalizing norms and institutions. Analyzing responses to ministerial proposals of the electoral law by high-ranking officials of various imperial peripheries, the authors demonstrate how the institutions of imperial citizenship framed the campaign of information-gathering marshaled by the imperial center and how the language of imperial citizenship conditioned the approach of local officials to the phenomenon of political representation.