In the ‘Wild Countries’ of Central Asia: Ethnography, Science, and Empire in Imperial Russia


Bailey, Scott, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor of Asian Studies, Kansai Gaidai University (Japan)

In this stimulating and timely book, Scott Bailey, an American teaching Russian and Eurasian history in Japan, traces the history of the dynamic Russian Geographical Society, which carried out major research expeditions to Central Eurasia during the second half of the nineteenth century. The immediate goal of its expeditions was to collect ethnographic, geographic, and natural-scientific information on these regions and their peoples. Their wider benefits established and extended Russia’s imperial control in Central Eurasia, including some regions under direct or indirect Chinese control. These expeditions served the acquisition of social and scientific information to benefit the Russian Empire’s colonization efforts. Their leaders were often elites trained in ethnography, geography, and natural science subjects, and a major objective of this book is to give a fuller picture of the diverse biographies of these figures, not all of whom were Russian or European males.

In the ‘Wild Countries’moves chronologically from the founding of the Russian Geographical Society in 1845 to the beginning of the revolutionary period in Russia in 1905. During these decades, research missions became more overtly “imperial” and coincided with the consolidation of Russian hegemony over Central Eurasia and an increasing Russian interest in territories in the western and northern regions of the Chinese Q’ing Empire. The book also addresses wider moves toward imperial projects worldwide.

Asia, Asian Studies, Russia, Russian Empire, Russian History, Eurasia, Eurasian Studies, Central Asia, Science, Ethnography, Imperial Studies, Colonization, China, Imperial China, Turkestan, Geography
Release Date: 
June 1, 2019
978-1680530872: Hardcover
Trim Size: 

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