A new article by Yuri Akimov in "Images of Otherness in Russia, 1547-1917"
A new article "From 'Sovereign’s Strangers' to 'Our Savages': Otherness of Siberian Indigenous Peoples in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Russia" by the Leading Research Fellow Yuri Akimov was published in the book "Images of Otherness in Russia, 1547-1917" (Boston : Academic Studies Press, 2023).
This chapter examines Russians’ perceptions of the indigenous population of Siberia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially under Peter the Great. Since the beginning of the conquest of Siberia, Russians perceived their indigenous population first as "foreigners" ( inozemtsy ), then as "strangers" ( inorodtsy ). At the same time, in the pre-Petrine era, the Russian administration demanded that the indigenous communities recognize the power of the tsar, yield and surrender by paying the fur tribute ( yasak ), extraditing hostages ( amanats ), and taking the oath ( shert′ ). However, it did not purposefully seek to change their beliefs, customs, mores, and everyday life. The situation changed dramatically in the early eighteenth century, when Peter ordered a campaign to convert "foreigners" to Orthodoxy without changing their "non-Russian" status as yasak payers. Since the 1710s, Christianization had been carried out with the help of the local civic authorities, often by force. At the same time, indigenous Siberians were beginning to be considered not merely as adherents of the "wrong" faith ("idolaters") but as "wild," "backward," "unenlightened," and "poor" people in a state of "childhood," who were accordingly opposed to those who were "civilized" and whose care they needed. It can therefore be stated that under Peter the Great the otherness of indigenous Siberians attained a new quality. This chapter will reveal the factors that contributed to this transition. The similarities and differences between the Russian perception of the indigenous peoples of Siberia as others and the perception of non-European peoples by Europeans will be considered separately.
Full information about the book is here.