Understanding Siberia as a Colony
: Bureaucracy and Civil Society during the Era of the Great Reforms

  • Diego Repenning Lopez

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis explores the relationship between Siberia and the Russian state during the second half of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Amongst Russia’s different regions, Siberia has enjoyed an ambiguous standing which produces a dichotomic – and even paradoxical – portrayal as both a Russian and a foreign territory. Throughout this thesis, I argue that this ambiguousness can be overcome by acknowledging the colonial
nature of Siberia’s position within the empire. By applying a colonial outlook to the study of Siberia, it is possible to understand the contradictory character of this region’s attachment to the Russian state and to explain the origins of the regionalist movements that erupted after the fall of the imperial and Soviet polities. Consequently, this thesis delves into the study of the bureaucratic structures put in place after the Great Reforms in Russia and Siberia, exploring the mechanisms undergirding Siberia’s colonial nature. In doing so, this thesis analyses the role played by the people who occupied middle and lower positions within imperial administration and the institutions that emerged from the Great Reforms: the intelligentsiia, raznochintsy, popovichi and professionals employed within the zemstva. Examining their activities, additionally, helps to elucidate how these individuals affected the development of Russia’s civil society. The engagement with these issues allows me to further explore the excluding and including measures that characterise imperial settings and that are recognisable in Siberians’ relationship to the Russian state.
Date of Award23 Mar 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorClaire L Shaw (Supervisor) & Matthew D Brown (Supervisor)

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