Tatar Empire - Kazan's Muslims and the Making of Imperial Russia
Publisher: Indiana University Press
An in-depth study of the relationship between the Russian government and its first Muslim subjects who served in the vanguard of the empire’s colonialism.
In the 1700s, Kazan Tatar (Muslim scholars of Kazan) and scholarly networks stood at the forefront of Russia’s expansion into the South Urals, western Siberia, and the Kazakh steppe. It was there that the Tatars worked with Russian agents, established settlements, and spread their own religious and intellectual culture that helped shaped their identity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Kazan Tatars profited economically from Russia’s commercial and military expansion to Muslim lands and began to present themselves as leaders capable of bringing Islamic modernity to the rest of Russia’s Muslim population.
Danielle Ross bridges the history of Russia’s imperial project with the history of Russia’s Muslims by exploring the Kazan Tatars as participants in the construction of the Russian empire. Ross focuses on Muslim clerical and commercial networks to reconstruct the ongoing interaction among Russian imperial policy, nonstate actors, and intellectual developments within Kazan’s Muslim community and also considers the evolving relationship with Central Asia, the Kazakh steppe, and western China. Tatar Empire offers a more Muslim-centered narrative of Russian empire building, making clear the links between cultural reformism and Kazan Tatar participation in the Russian eastward expansion.
“This is a rich study that makes important contributions to the historiography of the Russian Empire, sharpening our picture of an empire in which lines between colonizer and colonized were far from clear.” —The Middle Ground Journal