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Catherine’s Dilemma: Resettlement and Power in Russia, 1500s–1914

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the mobility-immobility relationship in Russia through the prism of rural resettlement (Russian: pereselenie), which is surely the oldest and most important of all the forms of long-distance mobility in the Russian past. Rural colonization was a constant in the lives of Eastern Slavs during the times of early Rus' and the Muscovite centuries. The chapter's goal is to add to our understanding of the mobility-immobility dynamic by examining government approaches to resettlement from the late 1500s to 1914. If one wants to understand how mobility "worked" in the Russian past the issue to explore is precisely the relationship between mobility and immobility, between staying and going. The chapter examines this relationship as an open question posed to the Russian state, Catherine's dilemma, and explores its effects on the evolution of Russian governance.

Keywords: mobility-immobility relationship; rural resettlement; Russian governance



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