The Historical and Cultural Role of Siberia among the Peoples of Foreign Nations

Irkutsk, September 3–5, 2003

in Sibirica

The eastern region of Russia left a noticeable imprint on the historical fates of the peoples of many foreign countries. Many works on the culture, history, and ethnography of Siberia sprang from the quills of foreign authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The study of Siberia was presented by people who were themselves exiled and cast away by the Russian government as undesirable or dangerous elements. This fate did not escape the peoples of foreign nations: tens of thousands of Poles, Hungarians, Germans, French, and Japanese were in various times forcibly sent to become acquainted with Siberia. Unfortunately the memories of Siberia for the peoples of a number of countries (Japanese, Hungarians, Poles,) became serious impediments in the way to mutual understanding and collaboration between Russia and those countries. The arrival of foreigners in Siberia is in large part chronicled differently by Russian historians in contrast to historians from other countries. There are various ‘blank spots’ in the history of foreign prisoners in Siberia (for example, prisoners of war from both World Wars), which Russian (Soviet) historians viewed in different terms owing to differing circumstances (with respect to the political character); the Russian ignorance of scholarship by foreign historians was further limited as a result of their inaccessibility.

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Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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