Regionalization, imperial legacy and the Soviet geographical tradition
The paper analyzes the underexplored aspects of the development of the Russian geographical tradition, especially the spatial dimensions of the production of geographical knowledge. It explores the debates among Russian geographers, statisticians, ecologists, and economists in the context of their cooperative involvement in the regional cadastral surveys and in other government-sponsored projects. The paper argues that the distinctive Russian focus on regionalization has been a product of the more or less explicit admission by the elites of a continental empire that their mastery over space cannot be achieved by means of eradicating difference or by subsuming it under the binary distinction between the metropole and the periphery. Instead, Russian authorities and intellectuals had continually to negotiate and renegotiate the strategies of rationalizing and controlling the social and natural inner boundaries within the empire's space, and this resulted in conflicting projects of regionalization.