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Mid-19th-Century State Cartography and the Idea of Progress in Russian Empirecraft

Mid-19th-Century State Cartography and the Idea of Progress in Russian Empirecraft

Chapter:
(p.110) Chapter Five Mid-19th-Century State Cartography and the Idea of Progress in Russian Empirecraft
Source:
Mapping Europe's Borderlands
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226744278.003.0006

The charter of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society (Imperatorskoe Russkoe Geograficheskoe Obshchestvo, or IRGO), signed on 7 August 1845, sought to cultivate the geography of Russia, and was established in St. Petersburg by an edict of Tsar Nicholas I, via the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). This chapter examines how three means of borderland mapping—military-topographic, educational-pedagogical, and ethnographic—became professionalized as empirical sciences by the empire's civil servants and scientific experts in European Russia, across the tsars' advisory ministries. The IRGO was the connecting institution, established to improve the knowledge and administration of territories from core to peripheries. Producing maps and cartographic knowledge, its effort in knowing the borderlands was far from a simple scholarly endeavor—its procedures in gathering and generating such knowledge were linked closely to the state's internal ministries—above all, the MVD.

Keywords:   Russian Geographical Society, Russia, geography, borderland mapping, maps

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