Enlightenment to Romantic Historical Claims Between Imperial Russia and East Central Europe

in Mapping Europe's Borderlands

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226744254
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226744278 | DOI:
Enlightenment to Romantic Historical Claims Between Imperial Russia and East Central Europe

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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This chapter examines Russian and Polish obsessions with origins, definitions, providence, and continuity endemic to early nineteenth-century understandings of European history, geography, and maps themselves. As of the 1830s, history and geography were still the stuff of educated gentlemen, curious travelers, and other dilettantes; gradually voluntary associations were formed, but even academic disciplines were not yet associational in a meaningful professional sense. At work in the age of Romanticism was less history and geography than historiosophy and geosophy, in a kind of historical fantasy space where history was inherently purposive, moving the European subject into a hoped-for future. The political geography of European Russia in borderland spaces excluded the colonized, or simply localized, populations whose choices of identity were shaped as much by the choices they thought they had as by the process of being labeled into collectivist units and territorial domains. In borderlands of empire where names of lands and peoples bore contested labels, mappers used similar cartographic methods, documents, and artifacts for politically antithetical aims. These, of course, were grounded in the nineteenth-century ideology of historical and scientific progress.

Keywords: Russia; Poland; European history; geography; maps

Chapter.  9145 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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