Knowledge and the Ends of Empire: Kazak Intermediaries and Russian Rule on the Steppe, 1731-1917

Knowledge and the Ends of Empire: Kazak Intermediaries and Russian Rule on the Steppe, 1731-1917

by Ian W. Campbell


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


In Knowledge and the Ends of Empire, Ian W. Campbell investigates the connections between knowledge production and policy formation on the Kazak steppes of the Russian Empire. Hoping to better govern the region, tsarist officials were desperate to obtain reliable information about an unfamiliar environment and population. This thirst for knowledge created opportunities for Kazak intermediaries to represent themselves and their landscape to the tsarist state. Because tsarist officials were uncertain of what the steppe was, and disagreed on what could be made of it, Kazaks were able to be part of these debates, at times influencing the policies that were pursued.Drawing on archival materials from Russia and Kazakhstan and a wide range of nineteenth-century periodicals in Russian and Kazak, Campbell tells a story that highlights the contingencies of and opportunities for cooperation with imperial rule. Kazak intermediaries were at first able to put forward their own idiosyncratic views on whether the steppe was to be Muslim or secular, whether it should be a center of stock-raising or of agriculture, and the extent to which local institutions needed to give way to imperial institutions. It was when the tsarist state was most confident in its knowledge of the steppe that it committed its gravest errors by alienating Kazak intermediaries and placing unbearable stresses on pastoral nomads. From the 1890s on, when the dominant visions in St. Petersburg were of large-scale peasant colonization of the steppe and its transformation into a hearth of sedentary agriculture, the same local knowledge that Kazaks had used to negotiate tsarist rule was transformed into a language of resistance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501700798
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 03/07/2017
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ian W. Campbell is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Davis.

Table of Contents

Introduction1. Seeing Like a Half-Blind State: Getting to Know the Central Eurasian Steppe, 1731–1840s2. Information Revolution and Administrative Reform, ca. 1845–18683. An Imperial Biography: Ibrai Altynsarin as Ethnographer and Educator, 1841–18894. The Key to the World's Treasures: "Russian Science," Local Knowledge, and the Civilizing Mission on the Siberian Steppe5. Norming the Steppe: Statistical Knowledge and Tsarist Resettlement, 1896–19176. A Double Failure: Epistemology and the Crisis of a Settler Colonial EmpireConclusion

What People are Saying About This

Paul W. Werth

"In Knowledge and the Ends of Empire, Ian W. Campbell addresses an especially important population and part of Russia's empire in the East. He has identified an interesting lens with which to examine imperial rule—one that extends considerably beyond this particular time and place. He writes with a fine combination of authority and flair that makes this book readable and engaging."

Alexander Morrison

"I read Knowledge and the Ends of Empire with great interest and enjoyment; it is well-written and solidly researched, with original and intelligent arguments. One of Campbell's greatest strengths is his deep and knowledgeable engagement with kindred historiographies of European imperialism in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. He makes a convincing argument that the Kazakh steppe was conquered without any very clear idea as to what was to be done with it afterward. For the next forty years, the only common ground between Russian officials and the Kazakh intermediaries on whom they often relied was that the status quo was not an option."

Customer Reviews