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Nation-Building and Nationalism in Karamzin's

History of the Russian State

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This essay analyzes Karamzin's contribution, through his History of the Russian State, to the formation of national identity and to the development of nationalism in early nineteenth-century Russia. It explores Karamzin's argument that the development of a unified state gave Russia an equal claim to membership in Europe's family of nations, and thus underlines the way that, for Karamzin, Russia's national identity was subsumed in imperial expansion. Karamzin was first and foremost a political nationalist. Yet the essay also explores the humane, cosmopolitan elements of Karamzin's thinking – elements that were in some tension with his statism and which pointed toward a cultural nationalism more complex than this statism.


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