“Deception begins with trade … ”

Vladimir Arsen’ev’s Economic Expertise and Challenges of Rationalizing Imperial Diversity in the Taiga

in Sibirica
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  • 1 Dept. of History and Center for Historical Research, National Research University—Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russia aturbin@hse.ru


The article explores Vladimir Arsen'ev's rationalization of the economic activities that he observed during expeditions in the Russian Far East, predominantly in the Ussuri region. It analyzes his categorization of the local population, which was derived from nonmatching taxonomies and included concepts such as nationality, religion, race, and subjecthood. Disentangling this categorization helps to outline the main contexts that influenced Arsen'ev, such as postwar political and military concerns, challenges of settler colonialism, and nationalizing empire. The article shows how Arsen'ev's intertwined life experiences as a military officer and geographer, colonization official, ethnographer, and resource-conscious naturalist outlined the limits of his imagination and provided the ground for his intellectual innovations.

Vladimir Klavdievich Arsen'ev is widely known as a taiga explorer and the author of remarkable books that celebrate the nature of the Russian Far East and the local indigenous population. A considerable contribution to this image was made by Akira Kurosawa's film, which was based on the author's books and told a story about the harmonious world of a local indigenous man, a Nanai hunter named Dersu Uzala, an alien removed from European civilization and living in harmony with the wildwood taiga and its animate and inanimate inhabitants.

In his works of fiction, Arsen'ev paid attention to the relations of “civilized” (that is, representatives of the “modern world” in general and himself and his Russian companions in particular) people with the native people of the taiga. He clearly sympathized with the latter: “Despite all his knowledge educated man is as far from understanding the question of the creation and the end of things as the primitive savage is. And both are superstitious,” he mused, leveling the seemingly obvious advantage of a civilized man—“scientific” knowledge.1 Describing the practices of the taiga inhabitants, he questioned the refinement of civilized man: “[The Nanai] took care of a man unknown to him, whom he would never see and who would also not know who had prepared firewood and food for him … This savage was much more humane than I was. What is a culture? Aren't we confusing two concepts here: material culture and spiritual culture? … Taking care of a traveler! … Why did people living in cities lose this good practice of being attentive to other people's interests?”2

According to Arsen'ev, modern civilization had a significant material culture in the sense of power; however, there was little good in it. Such a civilization turned out to be a kind of steamroller under which the virgin taiga and its inhabitants perished: “the country began to experience the violence that is commonly called ‘civilization.’”3 People like Dersu, who could not conceive the possibility of theft and who were ready to give their dearest possessions to their neighbor, were approached by the “soulless egoism characteristic of Europeans,” with whom Arsen'ev clearly associated Russians as well.4

A classical paradox is apparent: a researcher, intellectual, and explorer venerated in historiography as one of the first harbingers of “civilization” in the Russian Far East of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century turns out to be one of this “civilization's” most ardent critics.5 Although Arsen'ev's most-known books were only published in the 1920s, his skepticism toward civilization can be traced in much earlier writings and publications. Thus it would not be entirely true to claim these reflections to be the aftermath of World War I and the Civil War in Russia. Arsen'ev's attitudes found their way not just in books of fiction, but also in his influential expertise, produced under different political regimes in Russia. We can see these views in other articles of this volume, such as Ryan Jones's analysis of Arsen'ev's contribution to the conservation measures with regard to whaling and Sergey Glebov's insights into the connections between Arsen'ev's concerns about the Russian dominance in the region and Soviet politics of ethnic cleansing in the Russian Far East.6

Thus, understanding the logic of the genesis and transformation of Arsen'ev's views from a wider perspective helps to find continuities instead of ruptures in the history of the Russian Far East in the first half of the twentieth century. Departing from Arsen'ev's impression of the unselfishness of the people of nature compared to the egoistic economic rationality of the “civilized” people, this article refers to a particular aspect of Arsen'ev's thinking, his rationalization of what we might call “economic activities” that he observed during expeditions in the Ussuri taiga and the region's remote coastal areas.

Such a narrow focus is aimed not at the simplification of Arsen'ev's experiences, but instead at showing the complexity of the contexts that often become a subject of separate studies. Arsen'ev produced a corpus of texts intended for various readerships, such as military and government officials, fellow researchers, and the general public. It is, therefore, possible to trace how Arsen'ev's emphasis was changing depending on the context.7 Taken separately, these texts seem to provide simplistic representations of Arsen'ev, the traveler, the (proto)ecologist, the researcher (archaeologist/ethnographer/topographer, etc.), or, for example, the career military officer or Arsen'ev “the vanquisher,” valiantly strengthening the “buffer which had been withstanding the onslaught of the yellow race.”8

This article does not look to add another alter ego of Arsen'ev, such as “Arsen'ev, the economist.” Instead, it looks at how his life experiences provided Arsen'ev different languages to describe the diverse sociopolitical landscape of the Russian Far East and offered him various modes of rationalization and self-description. A nuanced glance at his usage of the categorical apparatus that included concepts such as nationality, religion, race, and subjecthood helps to get closer to the multifaceted Arsen'ev and the complex situation he had witnessed.9

Much is known about the literary and intellectual tradition that influenced Arsen'ev's work. According to various memoirs and Arsen'ev's personal archive (located in the Archive of the Society for the Study of the Amur region in Vladivostok), which contains numerous extracts from Russian and foreign works, Arsen'ev was influenced by a variety of writers: from Anton Chekhov and Alexander Kuprin to Charles Dickens, James Fennimore Cooper, and Thomas Meyne Reid. Arsen'ev also was a part of the “Russian military culture,” or the culture of “military oriental studies.”10 N. M. Przewalski, a famous military traveler and author of popular works, including those about his travels in the Russian Far East, was an important and cited influence in Arsen'ev's life and work. Przewalski's “Conquistador Imperialism” partially formed Arsen'ev's perceptions about his role as an imperial officer and scientist on the outskirts of the empire, as well as some of his ideas about the proper organization of the imperial space and diversity.11

Arsen'ev was acquainted with the leading scientific literature of his time. He was strongly influenced by such ideas as geographical determinism and social Darwinism, and most important, ideas of the classical sociocultural evolution theory in ethnography popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century both in Russia and Europe. It was based on the ideas about the linear gradation of peoples based on the level of their civilizational development, from hunters and gatherers to sedentary cultures. Despite doing “comprehensive study of the region,” which was common for Russian explorers who employed the method of “complex expeditions,” Arsen'ev largely sought to position himself as an ethnographer.12 He maintained intensive correspondence with the famous ethnographer Lev Iakovlevich Shternberg, who helped Arsen'ev to improve his works through criticism and who sent him books by the evolutionist theorists John Lubbock and Edward Tylor to “influence his views on culture by turning him into an evolutionist.”13 Arsen'ev also corresponded with the prominent academician Dmitry Nikolaevich Anuchin, a leading anthropologist and the key figure for the Moscow school of the so-called liberal anthropology of imperial diversity.14 Arsen'ev considered himself their student and made efforts to keep abreast of the most current scientific literature, reading even during his expeditions into the taiga.

The object of Arsen'ev's “complex” interest—the Ussuri region (Ussuriiskii krai, the southern part of contemporary Primorskiy Krai of the Russian Federation) was acquired by the Russian Empire largely under the influence of nationalistic sentiments. It was supposed to be a place of national triumph and renewal of Russia after the defeat in the Crimean War of 1853–1856, which implied Russia's economic prosperity in the East, struggle for the Asian markets of China and Japan, and opening Siberia to the world.15 De facto, however, the lack of economic resources resulted in the admission of a large number of foreign nationals to the development of the newly acquired region, creating one of the most diverse regions in the Russian Empire. Porous borders, the availability of large and rich lands for cultivation and other kinds of exploitation, and an ever-increasing need for working hands led to a significant increase, especially in Chinese and Korean migration.16

The taiga forests and remote coasts of the Ussuri region were suitable for sable trapping, fishing for spawning fish, and exploitation of other natural resources, which were in high demand mainly in neighboring China: deer antlers and other animal body parts, sea cucumbers (trepang), seaweed, ginseng, and so on. A large share of taiga inhabitants were Chinese and indigenous people (inorodtsy), but also large numbers of other groups, such as Koreans and Russian Old Believers. What may be called extensive exploitation of natural resources was common praxis for all these groups. Usually, this was done without regard for the long-term sustainability of the taiga's resources. The reproductive cycles of fur-bearing animals were ignored, and forest fires were common.

Arsen'ev, who arrived in Vladivostok in 1900 to serve in the 1st Vladivostok Fortress Infantry Regiment, faced this reality. Even before his “big” expeditions, which began in 1906, the then-lieutenant Arsen'ev got the first idea of the relationship between people and the taiga in the Ussuri region. As a member of hunting teams, he took part in military exercises, which were a combination of reconnaissance missions and hunting voyages, and traveled extensively around the outskirts of Vladivostok. Later, Arsen'ev reflected on his hunting experience in a self-condemning manner, talking about the cruel and “predatory” nature of man, and expressing his skepticism about man as the “the master of the Earth, the master of nature” in his diary entries.17 The latter reference implies that he was primarily thinking about modern “civilized” men and their arrogance.

Having become a member of the Vladivostok hunting society in 1901, Arsen'ev witnessed its challenges during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), including “predatory” behavior of the population toward biological resources, the imperfection of the imperial environmental legislation, and sometimes with the arbitrariness of state and military representatives on the ground.18 In his field diaries of the 1906 expedition, Arsen'ev wrote about the need for “punitive expeditions” to combat “predatory” activities in the taiga.19 It was Arsen'ev's experiences that formed what Jones calls his “sense of environmental fatalism.”20

If hunting was Arsen'ev's hobby, in his first major expeditions he was, primarily, a military man. The obvious precondition for these expeditions was Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. Attention to the region was growing on par with fears that Russia might lose this territory in case of a new war. The Russian Far East could no longer remain a terra incognita for the state. Accordingly, Arsen'ev's attention was directed to a comprehensive study of the region, both to prepare for possible hostilities in wartime and to counter any dangerous Japanese activity in the region in peacetime. Of course, negative features of Japanese presence, such as “predatory” fishing and uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources, could have been rationalized apart from the military threat; nevertheless, the postwar context dominated Arsen'ev's optics.

Not without reason, Arsen'ev perceived the danger of Japanese economic activity in the region as closely related to Japanese political ambitions. Although putting economic struggle at the forefront in peacetime, Arsen'ev did not see a way to develop competitive Russian economic presence by the private initiative which, as he witnessed, was either not effective enough or was allegedly colluding with the Japanese because of their economic domination. In his opinion, only the state could solve the problem through increased customs tariffs and supervision, subsidies to “trusted” Russian merchants, and the establishment of state-owned stores selling at a loss. Capitulation to the Japanese in the economic field was fraught for Arsen'ev with a final loss of loyalty of the coastal population, whose well-being was completely dependent on them. The military perspective dominated the imagination of Arsen'ev, who wrote that fortresses should be built prior to the roads.21

It is also easy to trace the reasons why the Chinese population received so much attention. First, a large number of the furriers, trappers, and other itinerant gatherers reliant on the taiga for resources and sustenance were Chinese. Second, a significant part of the exploited natural resources ended up on the Chinese internal market. Third, by the time of Arsen'ev's arrival to the Russian Far East, the question of the Chinese presence in the region had been acute for many years. In accordance with the treaties that delineated the border between Russian and Qing empires, the local Amur population of Chinese origin, defined as manzy, remained in their places, retaining both Chinese subjecthood and the right to live on the Russian territory. Given the porosity of the borders, there was no real capacity for the state to separate Chinese newcomers from manzy. Increasing colonization of Northern Manchuria in the last decades of the nineteenth century turned it into the problem for the local administration, and since the 1880s officials had been paying attention to the issue of the Chinese presence and establishing control over it, including attempts to institute the use of passports.22

Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, attempts by the Russian state to gain control over remote corners of the region often took on a cruel character. The appearance of imperial officials deep in the taiga, outside their usual places of residence, was compared by some contemporaries with military incursions into enemy territory.23 Arsen'ev described frequent cases of power abuse by local representatives of the imperial administration in his field diaries. For example, he mentioned the fear of Chinese living between Akhobe (present-day Lidovka) and Iodzykhe (present-day Dzhigitovka) rivers of the Russian soldiers since the latter were known for pillaging and violence thanks to previous expeditions poorly supervised by the heavy-drinking captain B.I. Bunin.24 Also, the appearance of a Russian official in the taiga often preceded migration of the Russian population to new lands, which was also rarely welcomed by most locals. According to Arsen'ev, they often tried to hide or give incorrect information about the quality of land and crops.25 Arsen'ev's 1911–1913 expeditions were aimed at clearing the taiga of residents that were considered undesirable by the Russian administration.

Soon after Nikolai Lvovich Gondatti, a man with an academic background in ethnography and anthropology, became Priamur governor general (1911–1917), Arsen'ev was engaged in solving the problem of “predatory” (understood by both officials primarily as Chinese) activities in the taiga—first as an expert, and later as the leader of punitive expeditions. These 1911–1913 expeditions differed from previous attempts to restore order in the remote areas by a strive for systematic measures in accordance with modernist understanding state violence organization. Although Arsen'ev's personal correspondence contains much evidence that he did not admire this work entirely, due to its limited effectiveness, his reports to Gondatti give the impression that Arsen'ev was sympathetic to these expeditions’ end goal.26 Arsen'ev's systematized views on the “predatory” activities in the taiga were represented in two big non-fiction works—the military-geographical and military-statistical essay of the Ussuri Territory published in 1912, and the extensive work on the Chinese population in the region, published in 1914. The first book was primarily devoted to military and colonization issues while the second one, as Arsen'ev wrote, was not so much ethnography as the study of organizations and economic activities of local Chinese.27

It would be unfair to say that Arsen'ev saw Chinese individuals only in a negative light. On the contrary, his travel notes as well as his other works occasionally reference the good qualities of some Chinese. Arsen'ev often encountered their friendliness and hospitality, though sometimes it was dictated by their fear of him.28 Some Chinese in the Ussuri taiga even evoked genuine respect from him.29 Arsen'ev, like most residents of the Ussuri region, had a lot of contact with the Chinese population outside the taiga, since they played important roles in the daily life of both cities and rural areas, working as laborers, servants, and so on.30 However his positive experiences were overshadowed by observations of Chinese taiga exploiters and competitive entrepreneurs. As a result, in his works Arsen'ev built a narrative in which he opposed almost any Chinese presence in the region. Sergey Glebov compares Far Eastern travelers and administrators with the Russian maritime explorers. He describes a specific imperial ethos of those self-appointed protectors of the national and imperial realm.31 Setting Arsen'ev in the midst of the colonizing project in the Far Eastern margin of the nationalizing empire might help explain why his protective optics neglected one experience and favored another.

Arsen'ev depicted Chinese as effective exploiters of the region's natural resources, who, after having accumulated significant sums of money, immediately returned to their homeland. Their method of enrichment was not only “predatory” in relation to nature, but also dishonest and based on the exploitation of the indigenous population, who were Russian subjects. In his work, Arsen'ev gave numerous examples of exploitation, deception, and direct enslavement of the local indigenous population by the Chinese. One of the most effective ways was introducing alcohol and promoting drug (opium) addiction. The combination of these dishonest actions enslaved the local indigenous people to the Chinese. Arsen'ev believed this cycle of slavery could not be broken without help, since economic dependence was backed with physical force due to the absence of the Russian state and order in the taiga.32

The Chinese presence was harmful in another way. Uncontrolled and thus untaxed production of Chinese vodka (hanshin) promoted alcoholism not only among the indigenous peoples but also among the rural peasant population. The widespread cultivation of opium, as Chinese subjects rented large land allotments at a high price in the Far East, was hindering the development of “normal” agriculture. Finally, Russian landowners interested in cheap labor often leased their land to the Chinese instead of plowing it themselves. According to Arsen'ev, over time these people completely ceased to be real owners of their land. Finally, the local Russian population was often found to be extracting various illegal rents from Chinese subjects in the form of extortion or direct robbery, which was “corrupting” the Russian subjects. Thus, sometimes the Chinese were a source of wealth for the Russian population—but in a way that was undesirable to the state, according to Arsen'ev. To him, it did nothing but hinder the Russian colonization of the region.33

In addition, in Arsen'ev eyes the Chinese economic activities were not chaotic or random. Judging by the expedition diaries, back in 1906 Arsen'ev concluded that Chinese trade in the taiga was under the control of the “rich merchants of Vladivostok.”34 In 1911, in his report to the governor general, Arsen'ev developed this idea, indicating that all Chinese activities in the taiga were controlled by large Chinese firms in Vladivostok, Nikolsk-Ussuriisk, Khabarovsk, and Iman through the chain of intermediaries. In the end, various Chinese associations and communities were described as autonomous branches of China's secret and foreign policies.35 Taiga hunters and petty merchants under Qing subjecthood in this scheme turned out to be part of a large and well-thought-out scheme for the “predatory” exploitation of the region's resources. Arsen'ev's frustration with the limited success of the territory's exploitation by Russians stimulated his search for what would look like rational explanations. One such explanation could have been provided by conspiracy theories.

Arsen'ev ended the essay on the Chinese with proposals on how to deal with various categories of the Chinese population, from the complete removal of hunters and other taiga “predators” to limiting the percentage of Chinese workers and village shops by administrative measures. Another measure was to increase customs duties on Chinese household items.36 It is worth adding that in the reports to the governor general, Arsen'ev also proposed limiting Chinese mobility across the region, providing an analogy with the Jewish Pale of Settlement on the western border of the Russian empire.37 Thus, the economic threat posed by the Chinese was particularly dangerous because of the exploitative nature of Chinese economic activities, institutionalized relations with their homeland, as well as the complete non-assimilability of the Chinese population and its unwillingness to remain in the province. It turned out that even without political control and a permanent population in the region, China economically exploited it as its own colony; it “economically owned it.”38

Sergey Glebov puts it in a straightforward manner: “In the absence of a political language capable of articulating how a political community with diverse constituents could look like, both Arsen'ev and Gondatti resorted to ethnic cleansing.”39 Even if they were alternative political languages, there were little incentives to approach them. Chinese did not fit the scheme of proper—in this case, national—colonization. They were described as alien, harmful, and politically dangerous, and thus should not have been allowed to exploit the resources of the region. Arsen'ev put it directly in his writings: “why [should we] care about the Chinese when we have natives to take care of!”40

Thus, the Japanese and Chinese were relatively obvious candidates for Arsen'ev's close attention and, subsequently, his negative attitudes. Arsen'ev's (and indeed the Russian administration's as a whole) attitude toward the Korean population developed in a less obvious way.41 It was difficult to expect a political threat from Korea and, unlike the Chinese, for decades since the 1860s, many Koreans moved to Russian territory to settle down permanently. They were eager to acquire Russian subjecthood, adopted Orthodoxy, and eventually learned the Russian language. Arsen'ev did not doubt the Koreans’ political loyalty to the Russian state, noting that they “look at Russia as a second homeland.”42 However, in this case, political loyalty was not enough. “Predatory” activities by Koreans were not the main problem. Contrary to the Chinese, Koreans were not welcomed because they were coming primarily as permanent settlers.

Given the limited free land for resettlement, Arsen'ev argued that the land should have been kept for Russian settlers. Arsen'ev did not believe that Russians could effectively assimilate Koreans since “Koreans, as Yellow [people], would never merge [sol'iutsia] with Russians.” At the same time, Arsen'ev argued that Koreans should not have been given Russian subjecthood in cases when they were not Russified completely, which implied the possibility of assimilation. Arsen'ev feared “Koreisation” of the Ussuri region in case Koreans were provided full rights of Russian subjecthood and thus privileges aimed at Russians. To avoid this, he proposed to remain Koreans as foreign subjects and give them land on the basis of rent.43 Arsen'ev's contradictions could marker a conflict between two competing modes of description that existed in the region toward the Asiatic population. On the one hand, there was a long-established practice of situative and distinction-based approach toward them. For example, in regard to resettlement, Glebov shows this when describing Gondatti's clash with the head of the Resettlement Administration office over the treatment of Koreans.44 On the other hand, there was a growing tendency of making generalizations under the concept of the yellow race, and in the Russian Far East the essentialization of the racial differences also had a relatively long-established tradition.45

Thus, the simultaneous presence of contradicting ideas in Arsen'ev's text is not surprising per se. But it is interesting how these contradictions were subjected to the logic of the text. In the case of the “Brief military-geographical [voenno-geograficheskii] and military-statistical [voenno-statisticheskii] review of the Ussuri region,” the subject defined Arsen'ev's preoccupation with variously understood regional security. This eliminated some of the previous ambiguities in a search for particular measures to protect imperial presence in the region. The latter was largely defined through the logic of the nationalizing scenario of the empire's transformation into a nation-state.46

Fear to lose or weaken “Russian nationality” was one of the important criteria for evaluating all politics in the Far East from at least the time of the First Khabarovsk Congress—a meeting of local administrators and experts familiar with the region. It was convened by the first Governor General Andrei Nikolaevich Korf in 1885, shortly after the creation of the Priamur general governorship. In the program of the Congress, the question of the economic development of the region was intertwined with the implementation of a new, nationalist-oriented program, and the presence of the Chinese, Manchurians, and Koreans was recognized as undesirable because they could “lower the spiritual level” of the Russian people.47 In one form or another, this question continued to occupy the minds of all subsequent governors general of the Priamur region; one of them—Pavel Fedorovich Unterberger, the governor general in 1905–1910—was Arsen'ev's direct supervisor.

Unterberger was Arsen'ev's patron for many years until the 1917 Revolution. Arsen'ev continued corresponding with him after the governor general left his post and region and became a member of the State Council. Arsen'ev even dedicated his 1921 book Along the Ussuri Land to Unterberger. Unterberger was a proponent of gradual implementation of measures against the “yellow peril,” and he perceived Korean resettlement as a bigger threat than the domination of the Chinese labor in the region. He is credited with a quote that he “preferred the desert, but a Russian one, to land cultivated but Korean.” Even if this were destined to happen in a hundred years, he was happy not to allow “any plundering of Russian land by some yellow-faced [people].”48

In the case of the Korean population, the colonization issue also came to the fore. Both Unterberger and Arsen'ev expressed certain frustration about the successes of Russian colonization in the region and the quality of Russian Kulturträger skills in general.49 Russians were compared not with the Koreans per se but rather with a racial concept of a “yellow population” in which Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese were united.50 The semantics of this category complicated the Korean question, weaving it into a large narrative of the confrontation with the yellow race. According to Arsen'ev, the Ussuri region served as a buffer between the yellow race and the rest of Russia and would become a battlefield in the future.51

Preoccupation with regional security eliminated some ambiguities provided by the distinction-based approach to the local population. As Marina Mogilner points out in relation to criminal anthropology, Russian specificity was the multiplicity of candidates for deviation and multiplicity of ways to define it.52 Despite the powerful context of the nationalizing empire, this observation can be clearly seen exactly in Arsen'ev's study of the “Russian” inhabitants of the Ussuri region. This population was subdivided by Arsen'ev into completely different groups according to their economic lifestyle: old-timers (starozhily), newcomers (novosely), and also Old Believers.53 In the case of the latter, the old confessional taxonomy layered over and got along with the newer national taxonomy.

The economically active group of the population—the Old Believers in the eyes of Arsen'ev—were not so much settlers as “predators” moving from place to place and exploiting the taiga. They did not want to interact with the Russian state and population, treated other Russians worse than the Chinese, and in their economic activities were closely connected with the Japanese. Arsen'ev suggested that altogether this made Old Believers unreliable in the event of war, as they ceased to feel Russian, had lost their “love for the fatherland,” and were ready and even eager to cooperate with a potential enemy and could provide them considerable assistance.54

The new settlers did not satisfy Arsen'ev as they were politicized, which was not surprising as Arsen'ev's first expeditions took place at the height of the First Russian Revolution of 1905–1907. Many of the new settlers, according to the researcher, arrived in the region in anticipation of easy money and eventually became tramps or robbers. Others were lazy and unsuccessful in their homeland and therefore became completely dependent on the state in a new place as well. According to Arsen'ev, it was in vain that the state cared about those new settlers through such things as settler grants. Arsen'ev instead believed that the private initiative of those peasants who were ready to move to the region at their own expense should have been rewarded.55

Moreover, the free distribution of land to newcomers led to its “predatory” exploitation. According to Arsen'ev, having received the land for nothing, settlers did not care about the land and animals, because they could leave it and move to a new place, as the Old Believers did. He was especially concerned about forest fires; Arsen'ev was sure that newcomers from the steppes of Novorossia did not like the taiga and burned it. In this, they were different from the Chinese who, though undesirable to Arsen'ev, still exhibited what he considered elements of stewardship for the taiga and knowledge of how to properly exploit its resources. The fight against fires in the Ussuri region was Arsen'ev's constant concern, and probably one of the reasons that stimulated his thoughts on the problems of civilization, the vanguard of which he himself represented: “Once there was a big forest. Three times the fires following one after another destroyed it completely. Only rare charred trunks remained. Like fingers, they pointed a man to heaven, where he will have to answer God for the violence that he does to nature.”56

It seems that among the Russian population Arsen'ev mostly sympathized with old-timers who were politically loyal and economically efficient. In 1906 he was enthusiastic about residents of Permskaia village, which he called “an example and model for all the peasants.” Their secret of success was simple—they stewarded the taiga, and their main income came from hunting. Hunting was so important to them that they ceased plowing their land (the village was located on poor soil) and bought bread in the neighboring villages. Moreover, they themselves took care of the natural resources—they agreed not to hunt during the season of animal breeding, and they did not use “predatory” methods of hunting.57

It is striking that Arsen'ev did not seem to care that the peasants abandoned the cultivation of the land instead of moving to a better place for agriculture nearby. The fact that they ceased agriculture was perceived as normal, not as a loss of the main attribute of a cultured settled person. In the classical scheme of cultural evolution, sedentary societies were at the top, and hunter-gatherer societies represented the lowest stage of development.58 Such a change in the lifestyle of Permskaia village peasants was too reminiscent of situations in which many late-imperial intellectuals began to talk about the process of “going native” (obinorodchivanie).59

It is not time to turn to Arsen'ev's attitude toward the indigenous population of the Ussuri region.60 If Arsen'ev saw the Chinese as potential guides for the Japanese troops, then he quickly discovered that indigenous people ideally suited the Russian army in the role of guides and scouts, surpassing the Chinese in their skills.61 Moreover, according to Arsen'ev, there were more chances to achieve the loyalty of indigenous people than, for example, Russian Old Believers.62 According to Arsen'ev, the Japanese tried to get the loyalty of inorodtsy and partly succeeded. But, he argued, Russians had one advantage—only they could save the indigenous population from the economic exploitation of the Chinese: “only among the Russians can they find protection from the Chinese predators … we just have to use it”.63

The indigenous population was needed in wartime, and the Russians had something to offer them for their loyalty. But the patronage of Russians (in the form of a state) was also an important element in legitimizing the Russian presence in the Far East, part of the “civilizing mission.”64 Arsen'ev argued that nations on a higher step of sociocultural evolution were drawing indigenous people into the destructive world of economic relations based on exploitation. Only the Russian state could provide control that would give a chance to inorodtsy not to become extinct but to continue their natural evolutionary development. Examples of indigenous population oppression by Russian settlers or imperial officials aroused his indignation. Arsen'ev demanded that inorodtsy be granted privileges, introducing among them peasant-type self-government and endowing them with the land.65

Finally, Arsen'ev's sympathy for the indigenous population was also apparently influenced by the image of their natural coexistence with taiga. Apart from the “predators,” indigenous peoples were exploited, being forced to engage in fur hunting under the threat of violence and pressure of debts. The fact that “wild” and “uneducated” inorodtsy were subjects of economic exploitation provided them exclusive justification for the examples of their “predatory” activities. Apparently, such justification that was not accessible to the “civilized” Russian population, which simply “did not want to understand that the taiga with its animal population was also a sort of household.”66

Arsen'ev partially adjusted diverse reality to make generalizations that would fit the logic of the particular text. Without a doubt, many indigenous people were in a very bad economic condition. But Arsen'ev's diaries represent a more complex picture than his publications do. In the taiga, there were settlements with an economically prosperous indigenous population, despite the presence of the Chinese. Some rich inorodtsy were, for example, engaged in organized trade; others used Chinese wage labor.67 But these observations did not fit Arsen'ev's narratives, in which inorodtsy were rather passive victims of the invasion of more civilized nationalities. The potential of state patronage envisioned by Arsen'ev's was also largely imaginary. Judging by the “laws” of self-organized taiga communities, which were of great interest to Arsen'ev, one can see that the indigenous population seems to have been integrated into them.68 These “laws” might have been regarded as strict, cruel, and discriminatory, but it was the taiga with its own set of conditions and behavior rules. At the same time, Arsen'ev's great expectations about the Russian state effectively helping inorodtsy contradicted his experience of the egregiously low integration of the indigenous population into the empire's legal system. He actually cited some examples: “Peasants drive them [inorodtsy] from the land as they are passportless, in cities they are arrested as they don't have [other documents]. It happened that one orochen (indigenous ethnic group) woman died in Khabarovsk. There was a difficulty, where and how to bury her? It was impossible to bury her in the Russian cemetery because she was not Orthodox, and she could not be buried in the foreign one because she was a Russian subject. She was buried somewhere outside the cemetery.”69

It is unlikely that Arsen'ev reflected much on the difference between real imperial diversity and his own descriptive models. It is also unlikely that anyone in his circle needed to explain the reasons for the negative attitude toward the Japanese economic presence on the Russian coast, and Arsen'ev only needed to provide an in-depth examination of this issue. The separate experience of positive interaction with the Chinese population probably did not stand out too much against the background of the negative one, and therefore also did not necessitate any revision of the ideas common among people who shared the vision of an ongoing clash of races and of the Ussuri region as a fortress.

Moreover, even when in service, Arsen'ev could avoid uncomfortable, thought-provoking moral dilemmas. The specific conditions on the ground pushed Arsen'ev toward a kind of pragmatism and situational thinking. For example, such was the case with cheated Korean settlers, who were illegally placed on the state-owned land on the Kuznetsovaia River by a Russian ex-official. Arsen'ev did not make the decision to immediately evict village residents, and although for him it was still a question of “Korean dominance,” Korean settlers with small children in their arms were clearly not the “enemy” he desired.70

Reality pushed Arsen'ev to go beyond the boundaries of available descriptive schemes. It did not mean rejecting available categories but rather trying to redefine them. We might look at several cases and try to understand the intellectual background that could explain such redefinitions. Coming back to the curious example of old-timer peasants who successfully provided their economic well-being with hunting, and whose adaptability was approved by him, it does not look entirely accidental. One can find the development of Arsen'ev's thoughts. In his 1923 book Dersu Uzala, Arsen'ev wrote: “The creativity of [Dersu] always surprised me … People involved in agriculture, such as Koreans, are mentally lower than a hunter. The earth binds a person to one place, dulls his mind, and limits his horizons. The hunter, on the contrary, has mobility, energy, and a highly developed initiative.”71

These examples do not mean at all that settled agriculture was not an important criterion for Arsen'ev to determine the degree of cultural development. In 1912, when Arsen'ev described the prospects of the indigenous population, he saw the only way to save them was a partial transition to settled agriculture.72 In the same way, the deplorable state of agriculture among the Kamchadals, caused by the influence of fur buyers, was perceived by Arsen'ev as a deviation from the normal evolutionary path toward a sedentary lifestyle.73 His adherence to the classical evolutionist theory is clearly expressed in his report delivered at the 1913 First Congress of Doctors of the Priamur region, during which he outlined the need for endowing the indigenous population with the land. They should have continued to exercise a traditional lifestyle but only to develop a sedentary lifestyle in a natural manner.74

A sedentary lifestyle remained the evolutional goal to which the “wild” peoples were to come. But as Arsen'ev's later works show, these “wild” people, while being on the lower level of the development, somehow could give something to a “civilized” people. For example, their experience of rational use of natural resources, their technical knowledge of life in areas with a harsh climate. And only the state could protect both nature and this symbiosis from the negative effects of powerful “civilization.” The Soviet period of Arsen'ev's expertise shows this vision. He fit perfectly into the context of the Soviet policy of indigenization, opposing the quick and radical breaking of the indigenous lifestyle and claiming this lifestyle to be better adapted to the climatic conditions of the territories.75 Previously Arsen'ev's adherence to social evolutionism was not questioned in this text. However, both his lack of concern about old-timers who ceased agriculture, expressed in the early diaries, and ideas about benefits that could be gained from “wild” natives, show his long-lasting tensions with this model, largely produced by his experiences on the ground. But it seems that his intellectual environment provided some space for ambiguity and intellectual innovations as well.

As it already mentioned, Shternberg, who was one if not the most influential intellectuals for Arsen'ev, is largely perceived as a dedicated evolutionist. Undoubtedly, Arsen'ev was much dependent on his intellectual tradition, especially given that he had to struggle with his supposed “provincialism.” He admired Shternberg and asked him to edit his works in the 1920s.76 However, Sergey Kan finds out that despite the image of a dogmatic adherent of the evolutionist theories, the latter had to reassess many postulates of the classical evolutionism. Kan show this by unveiling the conflict between multifaceted Shternberg-evolutionist, Shternberg-field ethnographer, populist (narodnik), and Jewish patriot. Such a view allowed Kan to show that Shternberg's ideas were much closer to the ideas of Franz Boas, despite the fact that the latter did not recognize this.77 Boas is seen as a “symbol of the shift from the evolutionist paradigm” in cultural anthropology to hermeneutic ethnology, which implied the absence of the universal scale against which the degree of culture's development could be measured.78

To sum up, Arsen'ev was neither a hostage of the taxonomies and categories that dominated in a certain historical moment and geographical position nor of his social environment and inherited intellectual tradition. He tried to redefine available concepts and their relations to embrace his experience of being in an imperial situation.79 It is hard to claim that Arsen'ev clearly captured and rationalized all inconsistencies of his thinking or was ready to openly challenge the schemes developed by the intellectual tradition that he inherited. But it is quite clear that he and his colleagues witnessed the same challenges, which facilitated their search for alternatives. The Soviet period of Arsen'ev's activities shows that, though on par with many clearly conservative ideas, at least some elements of his innovative visions were at demand.

One of the results of his innovative thinking was linking the successful colonization of the region either with symbiosis or with a hybrid of a classical “civilized” person, and an indigenous one adapted to local conditions and protected from the vices of “civilization” by the state. Without the state, a “civilized” man was a threat to the whole world and to himself. It is not a coincidence that Arsen'ev symbolically designated Russians to be the murderers of Dersu Uzala (in reality, they were unknown), completing the book with a sad conclusion: “Civilization gives birth to criminals. Build your well-being at the expense of another—this is the slogan of the twentieth century. The deception begins with trade, then, in a sequential order goes usury, slavery, theft, robbery, murder, and finally war and revolution with all their horrors. Is this civilization!?”80


This work is the result of a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. I thank the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments, which helped to improve this article. I also thank Ismael Biyashev from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Sergey Glebov from Smith and Amherst Colleges, and Ronald G. Suny from the University of Michigan for their comments on earlier drafts of this text.



Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, Dersu Uzala: Iz vospominanii o puteshestvii po Ussuriiskomu kraiu v 1907 g. [Dersu Uzala: Memories about the travel along the Ussuri land in 1907] (Vladivostok: Svobodnaia Rossiia, 1923), 72.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, Po Ussuriiskomu kraiu (Dersu Uzala): Puteshestvie v gornuiu oblast’ “Sikhote-Alin’” [Along the Ussuri land (Dersu Uzala): Travel to the “Sikhote-Alin’” mountains] (Vladivostok: Tipografiia “Ekho,” 1921), 13.


Arsen'ev, Dersu Uzala, foreword.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii i voenno-statisticheskii ocherk Ussuriiskogo kraia 1901–1911 gg. [Brief military-geographical and military-statistical review of the Ussuri region in 1901–1911] (Khabarovsk: Tipografiia Shtaba Priamurskogo voennogo okruga, 1912), 243.


For more on the civilizing mission in the East and its role in Russian national ideology, see Mark Bassin, Imperial Visions: Nationalist Imagination and Geographical Expansion in the Russian Far East, 1840–1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 174–205.


Ryan Tucker Jones, “Vladimir Arsen'ev and Whales in Russia's Revolutionary Far East,” Sibirica 19, no. 3, 60–78; Sergey Glebov, “The Political Ecology of Vladimir Arseniev,” Sibirica 19, no. 3, 15–36.


For a good analysis of the corpus of sources on V. K. Arsen'ev, see Anna I. Tarasova, Vladimir Klavdievich Arsen'ev, 2nd ed, (Vladivostok: Izdatel'skii dom Dal'nevostochnogo federal'nogo universiteta, 2012), 412.


Arsen'ev spoke about Ussuri region as a buffer at least since 1912, see Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 322.


In this text such categories as “Chinese,” “Koreans,” “Russians” are used as Arsen'ev's categories, not as analytical ones. On the national categories see Rogers Brubaker, “Myths and Misconceptions in the Study of Nationalism,” in National Self-Determination and Secession (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 233–265.


Vladimir N. Sokolov, “Tropoiu Arsen'eva: K istoricheskoi antropologii voennogo vostokovedeniia DV [Dal'nego Vostoka] Rossii nachala XX veka,” in Vladimir Klavdievich Arsen'ev: Sobranie sochinenii v 6 tomakh [Vladimir Klavdievich Arsen'ev: Collected works in 6 volumes] (Vladivostok: Tikhookeanskoe izdatel'stvo “Rubezh,” 2012), 3:712–713.


More on Przhevalsky's “Conquistador Imperialism,” see Devid Skhimmel'pennink van der Oie, Na vstrechu voskhodiashchemu solntsu: kak imperskoe mifotvorchestvo privelo Rossiiu k voine s Iaponiei (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2009), 421. For the English-language publication, see David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Toward the Rising Sun: Russian Ideologies of Empire and the Path to War with Japan (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2001), 329.


For Arsen'ev's intellectual tradition, see Tarasova, Vladimir Klavdievich Arsen'ev, especially 62, 136, 247–330.


For a profound study on Shternberg, see Sergei Kan, Lev Shternberg: Anthropologist, Russian Socialist, Jewish Activist (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009), 574. On Shternberg's relations with Arsen'ev, see 163–166, 344.


For a profound study on Anuchin and anthropology in Russia, see Marina Mogil'ner, Homo Imperii: Istoriia fizicheskoi antropologii v Rossii (XIX–nachalo XX vv.) (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2008), 512; for English-language version, see Marina Mogilner, Homo Imperii: A History of Physical Anthropology in Russia (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013), 504.


Bassin, Imperial Visions, 143–173.


See more in Tat'iana Z. Pozniak, Inostrannye poddannye v gorodakh Dal'nego Vostoka Rossii (vtoraia polovina XIX–nachalo XX v.) [Foreign citizens in the cities of the Russian Far East (the second half of the XIX–XX centuries)] (Vladivostok: Dal'nauka, 2004), 316.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Polevye dnevniki ekspeditsii V.K. Arsen'eva 1906 goda (prodolzhenie)” [Field diaries of V.K. Arsen'ev's expedition of 1906 (continuation)], in Zapiski Obshchestva izucheniia Amurskogo kraia, vol. 37, no. 1 (Vladivostok, 2004), 10–69, here note dated September 20, 1906, 66.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Otchet o deiatel'nosti Vladivostokskogo obshchestva liubitelei okhoty za 5-ti letie s 1901 po 1905 god” [Report on the activities of the Vladivostok society of hunters for the 5 years, 1901–1905], in Sobranie sochinenii v 6 tomakh, 3:586–630.


Arsen'ev, “Polevye dnevniki ekspeditsii” (2004), here note dated September 16, 1906, 62.


Jones, “Vladimir Arsen'ev and Whales in Russia's Revolutionary Far East.”


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 284–304.


On the discussions among Russian administration about policies toward Chinese, see Sergey Glebov, “Between Foreigners and Subjects: Imperial Subjecthood, Governance, and the Chinese in the Russian Far East, 1860s–1880s,” Ab Imperio 1 (2017): 86–130, https://doi.org/10.1353/imp.2017.0005.


Ivan N. Egorchev, “Soglasno Lichnogo Prikazaniia Vashego Vysokoprevoskhoditel'stva … ”: Sekretnye Ekspeditsii V.K. Arsen'eva, 1911–1913 gg. [“According to the personal order of Your High Excellency … ”: Secret expeditions of V.K. Arsenyev, 1911–1913] (Vladivostok: Dal'nevostochnyi federal'nyi universitet, 2014), 292, 241–242.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Polevye dnevniki ekspeditsii V.K. Arsen'eva 1906 goda. Maket izdaniia” [Field diaries of V.K. Arsen'ev's expedition of 1906. Publication layout], in Zapiski Obshchestva Izucheniia Amurskogo Kraia, vol. 36, no. 1 (Vladivostok, 2002), 11–66, here 13–14, 30. Arsen'ev preferred to omit these facts when he mentioned captain Bunin as a local expert on the South-Ussuri krai in his literary work: Arsen'ev, Po Ussuriiskomu kraiu, 120–121.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Polevye dnevniki ekspeditsii V.K. Arsen'eva 1906 goda (prodolzhenie)” [Field diaries of V.K. Arsen'ev's expedition of 1906 (continuation)], in Zapiski Obshchestva izucheniia Amurskogo kraia, vol. 37, no. 1 (Vladivostok, 2004), 46.


Egorchev, Soglasno Lichnogo Prikazaniia, especially 136.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii; Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Kitaitsy v Ussuriiskom krae: Ocherk istorichesko-etnograficheskii,” in Zapiski Priamurskogo otdeleniia Imperatorskogo Russkogo geograficheskogo obshchestva, vol. 10, no. 1 (Khabarovsk: Tipografiia Kantseliarii Priamurskogo general-gubernatora, 1914), 204.


Arsen'ev, “Polevye dnevniki ekspeditsii” (2002), 30, 64.


One of them was the leader of a local self-organized militia named Chzhan-Bao (Chan-Gin-Chin). See Arsen'ev, Po Ussuriiskomu kraiu, 224–225.


Pozniak, Inostrannye poddannye, 114–118.


Glebov, “The Political Ecology of Vladimir Arseniev.”


Arsen'ev, Kitaitsy v Ussuriiskom krae, 91–107.


Arsen'ev, Kitaitsy v Ussuriiskom krae, 61–82, 131–149.


Arsen'ev, “Polevye dnevniki ekspeditsii” (2002), 18.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Report dated October 18, 1911 retrieved from the Russian State Historical Archive of the Russian Far East [RGIA DV], F. 702, Op. 1, D. 716, L-l. 30-32 ob.,” in Egorchev, Soglasno Lichnogo Prikazaniia, 77–81, here 77.


Arsen'ev, Kitaitsy v Ussuriiskom krae, 195–203.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Report dated November 1, 1911 retrieved from the RGIA DV, F. 702, Op. 1, D. 716, L-l. 34-35 ob.,” in Egorchev, Soglasno Lichnogo Prikazaniia, 86–89, here 87–88.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 175.


Glebov, “The Political Ecology of Vladimir Arseniev.”


Arsen'ev, Kitaitsy v Ussuriiskom krae, 196.


To explore more about the Russian administration's attitudes toward Koreans, for example, see Boris D. Pak, Koreitsy v Rossiiskoi imperii, 2nd ed. (Irkutsk: Irkutskii gosudarstvennyi pedagogicheskii institut, 1994), 238.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 228.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 225–230.


Glebov, “The Political Ecology of Vladimir Arseniev.,


For example, see Glebov, “Between Foreigners and Subjects.”


Dominic Lieven Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals from the Sixteenth Century to the Present (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 281.


RGIA DV. F. 702. Op. 1. D. 13. L-l. 1–6, 46–69ob; “[Pervyi] S”ezd Gubernatorov i Drugikh Predstavitelei v g. Khabarovske” (Khabarovsk, 1885), 5-12.


Cited from Vladimir V. Grave, “Kitaitsy, koreitsy i iapontsy v Priamur'e,” in Trudy komandirovannoi po vysochaishemu poveleniiu Amurskoi ekspeditsii, no. 11. (Saint Petersburg: Tip. V. Kirshbauma, 1912), 136–137.his administrative praxis, Unterberger was less radical. See Pozniak, Inostrannye poddannye, 71.

Being acquainted with the academic literature, Arsen'ev should have had a more nuanced approach to race. But as Marina Mogilner shows in her book, in several contexts even Anuchin, who was reflective about methodology, was prone to if not to racism but at least to essentialist racialism. See Mogil'ner, Homo Imperii, 216–236.


For more on this issue, see W. Sunderland, The «Colonization Question»: Vision of Colonization in Late Imperial Russia, in Janrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas, Neue Folge, no. 48 (2000), H. 2: 210-232.


For more on the trope of “yellow peril” in Far Eastern Russian politics, see Oie, Navstrechu voskhodiashchemu solntsu, 134–167.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 321–324, especially 322.


Mogil'ner, Homo Imperii, 272–273.


Prior to the 1880s, small-scale resettlement took place via the overland route. Larger resettlement began with the establishment of the Volunteer fleet as the latter improved the connection between the Russian Far East and European Russia. At the beginning of the twentieth century, region witnessed an unprecedented influx of newcomers—settlers running away from the land scarcity of European Russia. Apart from those two groups were the Old Believers and sectarians. Though they were often regarded as allegedly disloyal at the same time they were recognized as much better colonizers due to their ability to maintain yet specific “Russianness.” For more on relations between the administration and different groups of the settlers, see Anatolii V. Remnev, Rossiia Dal'nego Vostoka: imperskaia geografiia vlasti XIX–nachala XX vekov [Russia of the Far East: Imperial geography of power in the nineteenth–beginning of the twentieth century] (Omsk: Izdatel'stvo Omskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, 2004), 552.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 154–174, especially 157.


Ibid, 154–174. (Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii…, 154–174.)


Arsen'ev, Po Ussuriiskomu kraiu, 320, 126, 113, 199.


Arsen'ev, “Polevye Dnevniki Ekspeditsii” (2002), 20.


In the international academic community and in Russia, cultural evolutionism is largely connected with the works of Edward Tylor. “Primitive Culture” was originally published in 1871 and in Russian in 1872. See Mogil'ner, Homo Imperii, 45.


Willard Sunderland, “Russians into Iakuts. ‘Going Native’ and Problems of Russian National Identity in the Siberian North, 1870–1914,” Slavic Review, 55, no. 4 (1996), 806–825, doi: 10.2307/2501239.


It should be noted that Arsen'ev, being an ethnographer, distinguished different groups among indigenous people, but for the purposes of this work these nuances are not as important as the general trope of the description of indigenous people that he used.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 199–200, 258–260.


Cited from Egorchev, Soglasno Lichnogo Prikazaniia, 105–106.


Arsen'ev, “Polevye dnevniki ekspeditsii” (2002), 30.


Bassin, Imperial Visions, 174–205.


Arsen'ev, “Report on December 1, 1912 retrieved from the Archive of the Society for the Study of the Amur Region [AOIAK], F. VKA, Op. 1, D. 45, L.l. 1-2,” in Egorchev, Soglasno Lichnogo Prikazaniia, 210–211. Arsen'ev consistently gathered historical and archeological evidence to ensure that the region never belonged to China and that mass Chinese presence there was a recent development of prior decades. The protection of the indigenous population, whom he designated as “real owners” of the region, also helped to achieve this goal.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 127.


Arsen'ev, “Polevye dnevniki ekspeditsii” (2002), 17.


Arsen'ev, Kitaitsy v Ussuriiskom krae, 165–188.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Vymiranie inorodtsev Amurskogo kraia,” in Sobranie sochinenii, 3:521.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Report to Primorskaya oblast’ military governor M.M. Manakin dated August 4, 1911,” in Egorchev, Soglasno Lichnogo Prikazaniia, 70–71. The resolution on the report was laconic: “To evict.”


Arsen'ev, Dersu Uzala, 94.


Arsen'ev, Kratkii voenno-geograficheskii, 244.


Tarasova, Vladimir Klavdievich Arsen'ev, 202.


Arsen'ev, “Vymiranie inorodtsev,” 507–522, especially 522.


Vladimir K. Arsen'ev, “Kolonizatsionnye perspektivy Dal'nego Vostoka,” in Proizvoditel'nye sily Dal'nego Vostoka, no. 5 (“Chelovek”) (Khabarovsk: Tipo-lit. Akts. O-va “Knizhnoe delo,” 1927), 31–33.


Kan, Lev Shternberg, 165, 344.


Sergey Kan, “Nauchnye vzgliady L.Sh. Shternberga v kontekste mirovoi etnologii i ego sobstvennoi ideologii narodnika i evreiskogo patriota” [Academic views of Lev Shternberg in the context of the world ethnology and his own populism ideology and Jewish patriotism], in Lev Shternberg—grazhdanin, uchenyi, pedagog (k 150-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia), ed. Efim A. Rezvan (Saint Petersburg.: MAE RAN, 2012), 179–189.


Mogil'ner, Homo Imperii, 122.


For more on the concept of “imperial situation,” see “From the Editors: The Hybrid Nature of Pure Forms,” Ab Imperio, 19, no. 2 (2018): 9–16, https://doi.org/10.1353/imp.2018.0025; Ilya Gerasimov, Sergey Glebov, and Marina Mogilner, “Hybridity: Marrism and the Problems of Language of the Imperial Situation,” Ab Imperio, 17, no. 1 (2016): 27–68, https://doi.org/10.1353/imp.2016.0023.


Arsen'ev, Dersu Uzala, 234.

Contributor Notes

Aleksandr Turbin is a PhD student at the Department of History and junior research fellow at the Center for Historical Research, National Research University—Higher School of Economics in Saint-Petersburg. His main research interests include the history of the Russian Far East, Far Eastern free trade regime (porto-franco), regional intellectual history, and history of regional identities, nationalism, and regionalism. He is a member of the Global History of Free Ports Research Project and participates in the ongoing research Project “Postimperial diversities—majority-minority relations in the transition from empires to nation-states.” E-mail: aturbin@hse.ru.


Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies