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Lecture: “The Lawful Empire: Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Imperial Russia”

Dr. Stefan Kirmse,
Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO),
Humboldt University of Berlin,

Tuesday, October 3, 4:00 pm,
Erb Memorial Union, Room 023


This talk combines an analysis of law and legal practice with a discussion of autocratic rule over a multicultural empire. It is as much about new legal institutions and their implications for an emerging rule of law in late tsarist Russia as it is about equality and cultural diversity. It examines the court system introduced as part of the Great Reforms of the 1860s, its local use and gradual expansion across the Eurasian landmass over the following three decades, and its importance for Russian imperial rule. Focusing on two regions that stood out for their ethnic and religious diversity, it follows the spread of the new legal institutions into the open steppe of “New Russia” on the Black Sea coast, especially Crimea, and into the fields and forests of the Middle Volga region around the ancient Tatar capital of Kazan. As these former frontier zones were home to large Tatar populations, the presentation is also about the integration of Muslims.