The True Beginning of Post-Soviet Historiography of the History of the Russian Empire
Authors: Sergey V. Kulikov
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The paper assesses the place of Boris Mironov’s new, foundational monograph in post-Soviet historiography and the place of the author himself among the number of modern historians. Special attention is paid to the methodological features of the monograph and the creative style of the author, who is the first living Russian historian to liberate his research mentality from the atavism of the Marxist-Leninist paradigm. As a result, Mironov has managed to present the history of the Russian Empire in a new, optimistic perspective, to newly illuminate already well-known subjects, to rightly correct many stereotypes that still affect the perception of the period of the Empire, for both professional and amateur historians. However, according to S.V. Kulikov, Mironov participates in some historiographical stereotypes, in particular, the notion that the history of the Russian Empire begins with Peter the Great, although Baron B.E. Nolde validated another view – that in fact the history of Russia as an empire begins with the 1550s, i. e., from the reign of Ivan IV the Terrible. The article raises the issue of the methodology of comparing the Russian Empire with other European countries that also possessed colonies and, in this sense, were empires. Mironov, according to the existing historiographical tradition, often compares the Russian Empire as a whole (the metropolis plus the colony) with metropoles of the corresponding powers, without considering that their colonies, as in the case of Russia, were legally, politically, and economically a single whole. In this approach, the Russian Empire, in terms of its development, will forever be catching up with other European empires. However, when comparing the Russian Empire with the British and other empires (as a whole), the situation changes, and Russia appears not as a country that follows, but as one that surpasses other European countries, particularly with regard to the beginning of the 20th century – in the degree of prevalence among the population of different parts of the empires of political rights and freedoms, including electoral rights. In Kulikov’s opinion, Mironov’s new monograph will cause a great interest among wide circles of the representatives of all disciplines of the humanities and will be an outstanding event in Russian historiography of the 21st century.