The project employs the paradigm of the “new imperial history” as its principal reference point, which defines and conceives the historical empires both as regimes of diversity management and as key actors of international orders and hierarchies. This implies borrowing from the constructivist interpretations of nationalism, whereby also historically apt and adequate models of nationalizing within imperial context, “non-nationalist policies”, and hybrid practices are applied. It also means that the concepts of political hegemony and ascendancy are relativized and partially abandoned in favour of a more profound understanding of the alternative political canons of regionalism, autonomism, and federalism, which may have included nationalist discourses, or may have transcended their claims of forming independent nation-states. The proclaimed approach also prompts addressing the methodological inventory of the “global history” as a way of moving beyond separate (and internal) histories of empire and an invitation to think about empires within transnational and global frameworks.
Empirical base of research
Writtendata on governing small social groups in pre- and early imperial period; text documents of the projects of reforming the political space on the basis of regionalism, autonomism and federalism and data on the discussions which took place within the society and involved political structures such as political parties; documents dealing with intellectual history and history of ideas; historical sources, pertaining to the constitutional process in the empires at times of crisis and transitions.
Results of research
The research fetched a detailed and more profound understanding of the benefits entailed by the application of the “global history” paradigm as compared to other well established ways to describe historical empires and their political, legal, and ideological experience. The constructivist approach turns out to be the most rewarding and justifiable constituent of the global history due to introduction of a constructivist view on ideas and ideologies of the imperial mission and entanglement of imperial and national power claims. The growing consensus on "imperial pragmatism" (which stresses governing and practices in the experience of empire) may nevertheless still fuel studies of subjectivity and functioning of universalist visions in the context of imperial diversity and hybridity. The presented cases of infrastructural challenges in Muscovy in the17th cent., of social and political identities in the Western borderlands of the Russian Empire, legal trajectories of Russian history, and legal and political discourses of decentralization, autonomy and federalism during the imperial crisis of 1905-1924 corroborate well with the theoretical findings and applied methodology, and contribute to forming a new and adequate theoretical paradigm of treating the social and the political in a long term.