Oleksandr POLIANICHEV

Academic Year:
2016/2017

Research Program:
PoM Pontica Magna

Affiliation:
European University Institute, Florence and European University at St Petersburg

Position:
Ph.D. Candidate

Country:
Ukraine

Research project: Empire’s Entanglements: Power, Imagination, and Loyalty in Kuban, 1792-1917

My project is an attempt to look in a new light on the history of the late Russian empire from the perspective of one particular region, a large borderland area split between Ukrainian and Russian speakers and commonly known throughout the 19th century as Chernomoria (literally, the Black Sea land) or, after the name of its main river, Kuban. I study how the local historical imagination or, more precisely, the myth of Chernomoria as the last refuge of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, reflected on the policy of the imperial center toward the region, affected the affinities and loyalties of the local intellectual and administrative elite, and was used by national activists to agitate the masses, playing a key—but by no means always successful—role in elaboration of the notions of “Little Russian,” “Ukrainian,” and “(all-)Russian.” In other words, I suggest a glimpse into who, how, and where disentangled the notions of “Ukraine” and “Russia” from the single imperial whole, drawing the meandering lines of distinction at the time when none of them seemed apparent.