Saint Petersburg: Typ. of M. Stasyulevich, 1882. First edition. Octavo. xi, 471,  pp. Period brown quarter sheep with olive cloth boards, spine with raised bands and gilt lettered title. Ink stamps of the private library of V.A. Fofanov on the title page and p. 17. Binding rubbed on extremities, spine with a minor crack on the front hinge, otherwise a very good copy.
First edition of the main work of Nikolay Yadrintsev, one of the fathers of Siberian regionalism (oblastnichestvo). This political movement, founded by a group of like-minded Siberian students of St. Petersburg University strove for the autonomy of Siberia, which in the most extreme projects was viewed as an independent republic based on the model of the United States. The Siberian regionalists, including Nikolay Yadrintsev and Grigory Potanin (1835-1920, a notable explorer of Central Asia), were aggressive Westernists and Americanophiles. An 1864 proclamation “To Siberian Patriots” stated: “Long live the Republic of the United States of Siberia! Long live Siberian freedom – from the Urals to the shores of the Pacific Ocean!” (Quot. in: Pereira, N.G.O. The Idea of Siberian Regionalism in Late Imperial and Revolutionary Russia// Russian History. Vol. 20, Vol. ¼, 1993, p. 166). This proclamation led to the arrest and exile of over forty Siberian regionalists, including Yadrintsev. The regionalists argued that the European Russians regarded Siberia as a colony – “little more than a contiguous, land-locked and frozen “Australia” – a vast dumping ground for misfits and criminals, and as a source of cheap resources and produce” (Ibid, p. 167). By the early 20th-century this concept partly lost its relevance with the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1904 but after the Russian Revolution the Siberian separatist movement gained popularity again. During the Russian Civil War, the region was a site of several short-lived anti-Bolshevik formations: Siberian Republic (1918), Provisional All-Russian Government (1918), Eastern Okraina (1920), etc.
Yadrintsev’s “Siberia as a colony,” published to commemorate 300 years after its annexation to Russia, combines complex research of Siberian history and modern state with the regionalist manifest. The book pays attention to Siberian geography, economy, the state of the native population (decrease of their number, impoverishment, diseases, relations with Russian settlers); types of Russian settlers; the negative influence of the exile and katorga system on Siberian life; problems of central and local administration; perspectives of Siberian future as a Russian colony, etc. The book is supplemented with extensive statistical tables of Siberian population and immigration (including native, prisoners and exiles), size of private agricultural lands, development of livestock and industries, educational institutions, etc.
The last chapter compares the “colonial” policy of the Russian Imperial government in Siberia with the British and Spanish colonial policies in the Americas, India and Australia and showcases historical parallels between Siberia and the United States. Mentions and mostly critical notes on the Russian-American Company's activities and its managers are scattered throughout the book (pp. 88, 230-233, 276, 282, 284, 317, 366, 368, etc.). “Siberia as a colony” was translated into German in 1886 (Jadrinzew, Sibirien. Geographische, ethnographishche und historische Studien. Jena, 1886); second enlarged Russian edition was published in 1892.
Nikolay Yadrintsev grew up in Tobolsk and Tyumen and studied in Saint Petersburg University. In 1865 he was arrested for membership in the “Society of Independence of Siberia” and spent nine years in prison and exile. Yadrintsev helped to establish the Western Siberian Branch of the Russian Geographical Society in Omsk (1877) and took part in the opening of the first Siberian University in Tomsk (1880). In 1878-1880 he travelled to the Altai Mountains; his account (“Sibirskiye Inorodtsy: Ikh Byt i Sovremennoye Polosheniye,” SPb., 1891) received the gold medal of the Russian Geographical Society. In 1888 Yadrintsev travelled to the upper Orkhon River (Mongolia) where he discovered Genghis Khan's ancient capital Karakorum and Ordu-Baliq, the capital of the Uyghur Khaganate. He found a collection of ancient Turkik Orkhon manuscripts with the parallel text in Chinese characters which were deciphered by Vilhelm Thomsen in 1893.
Price: $1,500.00 USD