The Pontic Steppe Cossackdom 1775-1830s: from borderland brotherhood to imperial estate

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES) Gamla torget 3, 3 floor, IRES Library
  • Website
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Russian Studies (IRES)
  • Contact person: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
  • Phone: 018 471 1630
  • Föreläsning

The Russian advance into the Pontic Steppe in the late 18th ct. (Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca 1774, Russian annexation of Crimea 1783) caused an unparalleled population movement in the region. On the one hand, local communities (nomadic Tatars, Cossacks frontier brotherhoods etc) felt uneasy with imperial centralizing policies and started to migrate to the Ottoman lands in hope to preserve their traditional rights and privileges. On the other, the Russian government started its own colonization program of the region (both inviting foreign colonists from Europe and resettling peasants from other provinces of the empire) and attempting to create the "attractive" image of the region contrary to the previous "Wild Field" populated only by nomadic raiders. Finally, the end of every Russian-Turkish war meant another influx of population into the Pontic Steppe / New Russia region - refugees and volunteers from the Balkans, who were helping the Russian army and feared the Ottoman retribution.

Consequently, taking into account the borderland nature of the region and its highly-mobile multi-cultural population with shifting loyalties, in my presentation I propose a revisionist take on the incorporation of the Pontic Steppe into the Russian Empire at the turn of the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries and the ambiguous legal status of local cossacks who had to adapt to the imperial rule. To do so I primarily focus on three contexts: local context of the Zaporozhian cossackdom; all-imperial context of the Russian military reforms as well as the development of imperial social structure i.e. more complex legislation on imperial estates (sosloviia); trans-imperial context of numerous entanglements between the Romanov, Ottoman and Habsburg empires.

Andriy Posunko defended his PhD thesis at Central European University in 2018 and his research focused on the social and military history of cossack units in the Pontic Steppe region of the Russian Empire. Andriy’s other publications also dealt with peculiarities of irregular military service in New Russia, Bessarabia, and Caucasus; trans-imperial movement of people, goods and ideas between Russian, Ottoman, and Habsburg empires; as well as ambiguities of social and legal status of the inhabitants in the borderlands contested by these three empires. Currently Andriy is a post-doctoral fellow at Eotvos Lorand University, where he teaches courses on inter-imperial encounters and entanglements in the Eastern and South-Eastern Europe as well as continues his research on the imperial transformations in the Pontic Steppe region during the late eighteenth - early nineteenth centuries.