Maria Ivanova took part in the annual conference of the North East Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (NESEEES)
The annual conference of NESEEES (North East Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, New York, USA) was held online on April 30. Laboratory's research assistant Maria Ivanova took part in the conference and had a presentation "Smolensk province after the War of 1812 in mental geography: between symbolic glory and economic marginalization".
This paper addresses to multiple narratives about Smolensk province that appeared after the French invasion of Russia. Smolensk province has a long and complicated history under the Russian statehood. This region was traditionally a part of the Great Russian (velikorusskie gubernii) provinces. Smolensk province became formally an internal province (as the “core” of the Empire) after the first partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1772). But, on the one hand, this province continued to remain as a borderland between the “originally Russian” and newly gained territories. On the other hand, the internal structure, regional history, and identity created a different narrative regarding this region (for example, the memory that the Smolensk was under the Polish rule in the 17th century). One of the main historical events that affected Smolensk’s position was the War of 1812 the consequences of which made the province devastated. This project argues that over the post-war 30 years, the province not only failed to recover, but also to become a marginalized region in terms of economics and governance. Instead, the discourse about the importance of Smolensk (and its province), the compensatory narrative of loyalty and heroism were actualized. The relevance of this narrative was articulated among regional actors, mainly from the economic perspective. The demonstration of the otherness that existed before the war would not be able to satisfy the practical needs of the region. As a result, this contradiction created a gap between the symbolic image and the actual state of the province. The project is based on the archival materials from RGIA, GASO and GARF. Methodological framework of this project are mental geography (B. Schenk) and approach of regional studies (A. Remnev, W. Sunderland, E. Boltunova).