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Rivers of Blood - Illustrating Violence and Virtue in Russia's Early Modern Empire

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Published on Nov 16, 2014

Professor Valerie Kivelson delivers the Raleigh Lecture on History at the British Academy for the Humanties and Social Sciences on Nov 6th 2014. Chaired by Professor Hamish Scott FBA.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth century, between the reign of Ivan the Terrible and that of Peter the Great, Muscovite Russian forces swept eastward, conquering, colonizing, and controlling territories reaching from the Volga to the Pacific. While early modern European thinkers such as Las Casas, Sepulveda, Hobbes and Locke pondered the pragmatics and ethics of imperial conquest, Muscovites wasted little time on theory. In the absence of textual treatises, visual depictions of bloody battles, ruthless punishment, and colonial rule reveal surprising patterns, with significant, and unexpected, implications for understanding Russian policies of imperial incorporation.

About the speaker:
Valerie Kivelson (PhD Stanford University) teaches at the University of Michigan. Her publications include Desperate Magic: The Moral Economy of Witchcraft in Seventeenth-Century Russia (2013); Cartographies of Tsardom: The Land and Its Meanings in Seventeenth-Century Russia (2006), and Picturing Russia: Explorations in Visual Culture, co-edited with Joan Neuberger (2008).

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