Cover Osteuropa 3/2012

In Osteuropa 3/2012

With Sword and Pen
Russia and the Conquest of Central Asia since Peter

Rudolf A. Mark

Deutsche Fassung


Russian encroachment into Central Asia is commonly regarded as a consequence of the Crimean War and a response to the imperialism of Great Britain. However, the conquest began in fact not in the 19th century, but under Peter the Great and followed an internal logic. Russia wanted to gain access to world trade, to become an intermediary between Asia and Europe, and to expand its territory. The driving forces behind this expansion were scientists, geographers and surveyors first, administrators later. They guaranteed consistency and sustainability in the Asian project. Scientists gained information about the staging ground, legitimized the conquest, and bestowed their academic blessings on the colonial acquisitions. Academic disciplines within the tsarist empire became “imperial science” earlier than in the European empires.

(Osteuropa 3/2012, pp. 79–104)