Aileen Friesen. Colonizing Russia’s Promised Land: Orthodoxy and Community on the Siberian Steppe. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019
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Colonization, Russia, Imperia, Orthodoxy, Siberia, Russian History
Colonizing Russia’s Promised Land is a book fascinating by its rich and detailed micro histories, such as the story of a priest, Grigorii (Poletaev), who at the age of 64 became the bishop of Omsk and Semipalatinsk and had to organize religious life in a new diocese’s from scratch. He had no place to live, not to mention support to organize the diocese infrastructure. This and many other thick historical descriptions that the reader will find in the book bring closer the complexity of political, social, and cultural situation in Siberia at the end of the nineteenth–beginning of the twentieth century. At the same time, however, the book offers generalizations that simplify the picture of colonization of Siberia. Moreover, the reader must believe the author and her interpretations, because the book lacks any description of its methodology, and only from the endnotes and the bibliography does the reader learn what kinds of documents constitute the basis for the book’s argumentation.
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