New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies
New Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies
New Books Network
Legal Cultures in the Russian Empire
1 hour 13 minutes Posted Mar 13, 2024 at 1:00 am.
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Law. How does the state form and use it? How do people use and shape it? How does law shape culture? How does the practice of law change over time in a modernizing colony? What was stable and what was malleable in the application of law in early modern Russia versus its Central Asian colony in the Empire’s final century? What’s the difference between a bribe and a gift?

These are some of the questions at the heart of this fascinating conversation about two books that probe the theoretical and instrumental underpinnings, as well as the everyday practice, of law in different periods and regions of the Russian Empire. Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia (Cambridge UP, 2012) by Nancy Kollmann analyzes the day-to-day practice of Russian criminal justice in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Visions of Justice: Sharī’a and Cultural Change in Russian Central Asia (Brill, 2017; available open access) by Paolo Sartori excavates civil law practice to explore legal consciousness among the Muslim communities of Central Asia from the end of the eighteenth century through the fall of the Russian Empire, situating his work within a range of debates about colonialism and law, legal pluralism, and subaltern subjectivity. Paolo Sartori and Nancy Kollmann explore overlaps, divergence and much more that emerge from their respective findings in these deeply researched books.

Paolo Sartori is a Senior Research Associate and the Chairman of the Commission for the Study of Islam in Central Eurasia at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient and the Journal of Central Asian History (Brill). In addition to Visions of Justice, authoring several scholarly articles and co-editing essay collections, Sartori has co-authored two books, Seeking Justice at the Court of the Khans of Khiva (19th–Early 20th Centuries) (Leiden: Brill, 2020), co-authored with Ulfat Abdurasulov and Éksperimenty imperii: adat, shariat, i proizvodtsvo znanii v Kazakhskoi stepi (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2019), co-authored with Pavel Shabley.

Nancy Kollmann is the William H. Bonsall Professor of History at Stanford University in California. In addition to Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia (2012), she is the author of Kinship and Politics: The Making of the Muscovite Political System, 1345–1547 (1987), By Honor Bound: State and Society in Early Modern Russia (1999); The Russian Empire, 1450–1801 (2017), and Visualizing Russia in Early Modern Europe (forthcoming August 2024).

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