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L. G. Zakharova’s Aleksandr II and the Abolition of Serfdom in Russia and P. A. Zaionchkovskii’s School of Historians

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This essay examines the genesis of Larisa Georgievna Zakharova’s classic book, Aleksandr II and the Abolition of Serfdom in Russia, as a crucial moment in the development of Petr Andreevich Zaionchkovskii’s “school” of imperial Russian historians. The article analyzes the early years of the Zaionchkovskii school and Zakharova’s place in it, her search from 1970 to 1983 for a defensible doctoral dissertation, her book on the abolition of serfdom, and her 1983 doctoral dissertation defense. Using her book as a focal point, the essay identifies the common values that held members of Zaionchkovskii’s school together, but also explores the intellectual disagreements and personal tensions between Zaionchkovskii and Zakharova, his favorite student and hand-picked successor. The article demonstrates that, following Zaionchkovskii’s death in September 1983, Zakharova perpetuated his school by re-fashioning it after her own image and likeness.

Affiliations: 1: Claremont McKenna College


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