The Late Tsarist Multi-ethnic Empire Between Modernization and Tradition

Focusing on the 1897 General Census, Kappeller goes deep into the ethnic background of Russia. Having known very little about the ethnic composition of Russia during the 19th century before reading this chapter, I came away with a better understanding of the makeup of the country, as well with a significant amount of questions, specifically with regard to the Jewish population of the country. Kappeller points out that minority populations are better represented in urban areas, something that alludes to the inadvertent ethnic ghetto-creation seen frequently in other European and American cities during this time period, something that, perhaps, looking forward 20 years, helped contribute to the overthrow of the Tsar in 1917. When large groups of like minded individuals are forced together because of economic status or ethnic background, dissent often forms among the collective, and as seen in France during the late 18th century, a large population of people with a common disdain for the government can be extremely dangerous. Hopefully in the coming weeks we will expand on the causes of the impending revolution; I know very little about the rise of the Reds/Whites; but I would not be surprised if they were divided by both socioeconomic and ethnic lines.

One thought on “The Late Tsarist Multi-ethnic Empire Between Modernization and Tradition

  1. Kappelner makes an interesting point about the life of the Russian majority in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century. Russians remained the largest ethnic group, but “certainly not the privileged ‘masterace’ of the empire.” The tsarist government supported the Russian elite in the center, but the masses of Russian population in the provinces were “a neglected majority.” Russian peasants lived in worse living conditions than many other ethnic groups of peasants. It seems that the expansion of Russia in the nineteenth century led to more severe exploitation of both the Russians and non-Russians in the distant provinces by the center.

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