Spatialities of land enclosure in the Russian imperial and socialist periphery
Since the onset of Stolypin land reforms of 1906, the Russian periphery became a cen- tre of territorial struggle, where complex alliances and strategies of different actors came to- gether to carry out or resist land privatization. Using original documentation of Russian imperial land deals obtained from the federal and municipal archives, I explore how the coalitions of landed nobility, land surveyors, landless villagers, and new proprietors used land enclosure as a conduit for extra-legal governance, mere profit making, or, in contrary, as a means of resistance. Through critical discourse analysis, I illustrate how the Russian state and territories in the periphery were dialectically co-produced not only through institutional manipulations but also through politi- cal and public discourses. I then extend this analysis to explore the ‘new land enclosures’ in the post-socialist urban and rural space by delineating continuities and exploring similarities with the fictitious property regimes promoted in late imperial Russia. Through a comparative theoretical analysis, this paper re-examines some predominant assumptions about land and property in Russia by positioning the Russian rural politics within the global context of capitalist land enclosure. At the same time, by focusing on the historical reading of land privatization from a Russian perspec- tive, this study introduces a more nuanced alternative to the traditional property discourse often found in Eurocentric interpretations.