Russia as a Multi-Ethnic Empire

In the latter half of the nineteenth century,  Russia experienced a massive shift in population in a number of ways.  From ethnicity, to occupation, Russia became more modern than it had ever been before.

Kaeppler talk about the expansiveness of Russia’s ethnicity.  The vast array of backgrounds was established by the 1897 Russian Empire census, the only official one they had ever taken at that time.  In the census, it was revealed that the Russian ethnicity/ nationality made up only 44.3% of the entire Empire.  The other 55.7% was a large mixture of ethnicities;  This was shocking when the Tsar and government declared that two thirds of the empire was of Russian nationality.  The sheer number of nationalities, ethnicities, religions, and languages mentioned in Kappeler’s article is a testament to how diverse the Russian Empire was.

In addition to the ethnic diversity of Russia, there was also an increase in agricultural diversity.  With the freeing of serfs in 1861, Russia was undergoing a large amount of economic change.  Specific regions were beginning to focus on more commercial crops and crops that were more specific the the region they were being grown in.  For example, the Poles focused on cultivating Tobacco, while Middle Asia grew vineyards and rice.  This was only possible as trading was much more expansive and farming was more versatile.

Was this diversity a positive or negative aspect of the Russian Empire?


General Cencus of the Russian Empire

Kappeller’s chapter, entitled The Late Tsarist Multi-ethnic Empire Between Modernization and Tradition, focusses on a comparison between two times during the Russian Empire, the late nineteenth century Russian Empire and the pre-modern multi-ethnic empire. Specifically Kappeller discusses how  when compared to each other, the changes and constants made to the Russian Empire during the end of the nineteenth century become significantly more apparent. Furthermore Kappeller uses the 1897 General Census document of the Russian Empire in order to accurately explain his argument.

Over the course of this chapter, I found one comparison in which Kappeller made of particular significance. Kappeller, in the chapter, had stated numerous significant differences between the various Russian groups within Russia, such as the Jews, Germans, Greeks and Armenians, had also become apparent within his original comparison. More precisely, during this discussion Kappeller stated how during the end of the nineteenth century in the Russian Empire, particular non-Russian groups were being better represented among the urban population than the actual Russian groups during the Russian Empire in the end of the nineteenth century. Because of this I came to ask the question of how and why did particular non-Russian groups become better represented within the Russian Empire during the end of the nineteenth century as opposed to during the empires pre-modern mulit-ethnic period?