Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 10, 2013

Imagining the Arctic, the Russian Way: Concepts and Projects for the Arctic Ocean in the Eighteenth Century

Martina Winkler
From the journal New Global Studies

Abstract

Few historical topics and regions lend themselves to such grand narratives as the Arctic. Dramatic landscapes, extreme climate, heroic explorers and their national pride merge and provide us with fascinating and catchy stories. The current situation of climate change, new possibilities of exploiting natural resources and potential territorial conflict have placed the Arctic in the spotlight once more. Current tensions often call for historical explanation, and scholars hurry to provide them. My perspective on eighteenth century Russian concepts of the Arctic Ocean, however, does not immediately contribute to a better understanding of present challenges. I will not be telling the Russian side of the story in the race among nations to the North Pole or explain how the Russians came to plant a flag under the Pole in 2007. The argument in this article stems rather from a general and explicitly historical interest in territoriality and sovereignty; in concepts, consequences and contradictions. How could absolutist sovereignty, which in the eighteenth century was sovereignty in the making, work “beyond territory”?

Keywords: Arctic; Russia; maps

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    The document is printed in full in Fel’ (1960, 84f). See also: Vasilii N. Tatishchev, 1950 [1779] “Donoshenie V.N. Tatishcheva v Pravitel’stvuiushchii Senat po voprosam organizatsii kartograficheskikh rabot 30 Aprelia 1739 g.” Izbrannye raboty po geografii Rossii, 98–106. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo geograficheskoi literatury.

  2. 2

    Fedor Saltykov, 2000 [1713] “Iziavleniia pribytochnye gosudarstvu”, Proekty reform v zapiskakh sovremennikov Petra Velikogo: Opyt izuchenija russkikh proektov i neizdannye ikh teksty, 181–232. Ed. by N. Pavlov-Sil’vanskii, Moscow: GPIB. A translation can be found in Dmytryshyn (1988, 59–63).

  3. 3

    Ibid., 219.

  4. 4

    Ibid., 217.

  5. 5

    Ibid., 217.

  6. 6

    Ibid., 217.

  7. 7

    The classic primary source for this is: Petr P. Shafirov, 2008 [1717] Rassuzhdenie, kakie zakonnye prichiny Petr I, tsar’ i povelitel’ vserossiiskii, k nachatiiu voiny protiv Karla XII, korolia shvedskogo v 1700 godu imel, Moscow: Zertsalo. For scholarship on this, see Butler (1990, 2008) and Grabar’ (1990).

  8. 8

    Owen Ruffhead, 1763. The Statutes at Large: From Magna Charta, to the End of the Last Parliament, London: M. Baskett; Constantine J Phipps, 1775 A voyage towards the North Pole: Undertaken by His Majesty’s command, 1773. Dublin: Printed for Messrs. Sleater, Williams, Wilson, Husband, Walker, and Jenkin.

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    Cornelis van Bijnkershoek, 1923 [1744]. De dominio maris dissertatio. New York: Oxford University Press.

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    Saltykov: “Iziavleniia pribytochnye gosudarstvu”, 217–218.

  11. 11

    Johann Gmelin, 1751 Reise durch Sibirien von dem Jahre 1733 bis 1743. Sammlung neuer und merkwürdiger Reisen zu Wasser und zu Lande. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck: preface.

  12. 12

    Mikhail Lomonosov, 1952 [1763]. “Kratkoe opisanie raznykh puteshestvii po severnym moriam i pokazanie vozmozhnogo prokhodu sibirskim okeanom v vostochnuiu Indiiu.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Tom 6: Trudy po russkoi istorii, obshchestvenno-ekonomicheskim voprosam i geografii 1747–1765, 424. Moscow: Izd. Akademii Nauk SSSR.

  13. 13

    See, e.g. “Otpiska prikashchika Kamchadal’skikh ostrogov Petra Chirikova iakutskim voevodam, 1710” Pamiatniki sibirskoi istorii XVIII veka, I., 410–11. Ed. by A.I. Timofeev. St. Petersburg: Tip. Ministerstva Vnutrennykh del, 1882.

  14. 14

    Saltykov: “Iziavleniia pribytochnye gosudarstvu” 217–218.

  15. 15

    The actual motives behind Peter sending Bering to the North Pacific have been debated intensely (see Polevoi 1964; Urness 1987; Kushnarev 1990).

  16. 16

    “Iz zapiski ober-sekretariia Senata I.K. Kirilova o tseliakh i znachenii Vtoroi Kamchatskoi ekspeditsii, 1733” Russkie ekspeditsii po izucheniiu severnoi chasti Tikhogo okeana v pervoi polovine XVIII v. Sbornik dokumentov, 152–154. Ed. by A.I. Narochnitskii. Moscow: Nauka, 1984.

  17. 17

    Mikhail Lomonosov, 1986 [1761] “Petr Velikii.” Izbrannye proizvedeniia, 280–311, 285. Leningrad: Nauka.

  18. 18

    Mikhail Lomonosov, 1986 [1743] “Vechernee razmyshlenie o bozhiem velichestve sluchae velikogo severnogo siianiia.” Izbrannye proizvedeniia, 205–207. Leningrad: Nauka

  19. 19

    See Michael Lomonosov, 1749 “Gedanken, vom Ursprunge der Eisberge im nordischen Meere.” Der Königl. Schwedischen Akademie der Wissenschaften neue Abhandlungen aus der Naturlehre, Haushaltungskunst und Mechanik, 37–43. Ed. by Abraham G. Kästner. Leipzig: Adam Heinrich Holle; Mikhail Lomonosov, 1803 [1759] “Razsuzhdenie o bol‘shoi tochnosti morskago puti, chitannoe v publichnom sobranii Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk Maia 8 dnia 1759 goda.” Polnoe Sobranie Sochinenii Mikhaila Vasil’evicha Lomonosova, 179–242. St. Peterburg: Imperatorskaia Akademiia Nauk; Mikhail Lomonosov, 1951 [1744] “Fizicheskie razmyshleniia o prichinakh teploty i kholoda.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Tom 2: Trudy po fizike i khimii, 63–104. Moscow: Izd. Akademii Nauk SSSR, 1951. In 1755 Lomonosov also wrote a “Letter about a Northern Route to East India” (“Pis’mo o Severnom khodu v Ost’-Indiiu Sibriskim Okeanom”), which was not preserved (see Billiarskii 1865, 302).

  20. 20

    Mikhail Lomonosov 1952 [1763], “Kratkoe opisanie raznych puteshestvii po severnym morjam i pokazanie vozmožnogo prokhodu sibirskim okeanom v vostochnuiu Indiiu”, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Tom 6: Trudy po russkoj istorii, obshchestvenno-ekonomicheskim voprosam i geografii 1747–1765, 421–498. Moscow, Leningrad: Izd. Akademii Nauk SSSR.

  21. 21

    Ibid, 424.

  22. 22

    This theory was challenged by, among others, the scholar Franz Maria Aepinus from the Petersburg Academy of Sciences (Sokolov 1858, xlvii–lv).

  23. 23

    Lomonosov: “Kratkoe opisanie raznych puteshestvii po severnym morjam i pokazanie vozmozhnogo prokhodu sibirskim okeanom v vostochnuiu Indiiu”, 473

  24. 24

    In fact, Lomonosov based his doubts in de Fonte’s accounts on the premise that the Spanish were used to warm weather and thus were not able to reach high northern latitudes. Ibid., 440.

  25. 25

    Ibid., 423.

  26. 26

    Lomonosov, “Razsuzhdenie o bol’shoi tochnosti morskago puti, chitannoe v publichnom sobranii Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk Maia 8 dnia 1759 goda”, 185f.

  27. 27

    Lomonosov: “Kratkoe opisanie raznych puteshestvii po severnym morjam i pokazanie vozmozhnogo prokhodu sibirskim okeanom v vostochnuiu Indiiu”, 420.

  28. 28

    Ibid. A black and white reproduction of this map can be found in Hayes (2003, 55).

  29. 29

    Lomonosov, “Razsuzhdenie o bol’shoi tochnosti morskago puti, chitannoe v publichnom sobranii Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk Maia 8 dnia 1759 goda”, 179.

  30. 30

    See Mikhail Lomonosov 1952 [1764], “Primernaia instruktsiia morskim komanduiushchim ofitseram, otpravliaiushchimsia k poiskaniiu puti na vostok severnym sibirskim okeanom.” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Tom 6: Trudy russkoi istorii, obshchestvenno-ekonomicheskim voprosam i geografii 1747–1765, 519–535. Moscow, Leningrad: Izd. Akademii Nauk SSSR.; Catherine II, “Eia Imperatorskago Velichestva, iz Gosudarstvennoi Admiratel’skoi Kollegii, Flota Kapitanu pervago ranga Vasil’iu Chichagovu.” Document in: Proekt Lomonosova i ekspeditsiia Chichagova, xxix–xlvii. Ed. by A.P. Sokolov. Moscow: Morskaia tipografiia, 1858.

  31. 31

    Lomonosov “Primernaia instruktsiia morskim komanduiushchim ofitseram, otpravliaiushchimsia k poiskaniiu puti na vostok severnym sibirskim okeanom”, 527f.

  32. 32

    Ibid., 526.

  33. 33

    Gerhard Friedrich Müller 1793, “Nachrichten von den neuesten Schiffahrten im Eiβmeer und in der Kamtschatkischen See, seit dem Jahr 1742; da die zweyte Kamtschatkische Expedition aufgehört hat.” Neue Nordische Beyträge zur physikalischen und geographischen Erd- und Völkerbeschreibung, Naturgeschichte und Oekonomie 5, 7; Gerhard Friedrich Müller 1995 [1776], “Brief Müller Büsching 18.1.1776.” Geographie, Geschichte und Bildungswesen in Ruβland und Deutschland im 18. Jahrhundert. Briefwechsel Anton Friedrich Büsching-Gerhard Friedrich Müller 1751 bis 1783, 404–06. Ed. by Peter Hoffmann. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

  34. 34

    See Mikhail Lomonosov 1952 [1764] “Pribavlenie vtoroe, sochinennoe po novym izvestiiam promyshlennikov iz ostrovov amerikanskikh” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Tom 6: Trudy po russkoi istorii, obshchestvenno-ekonomicheskim voprosam i geografii 1747–1765, 507–14. Moscow, Leningrad: Izd. Akademii Nauk SSSR; Müller “Nachrichten von den neuesten Schiffahrten im Eiβmeer und in der Kamtschatkischen See, seit dem Jahr 1742; da die zweyte Kamtschatkische Expedition aufgehört hat,” 5–7.

  35. 35

    Catherine II 1979 [1764], “Ukaz Ekateriny II Admiralteistv-kollegii o snariazhenii ekspeditsii dlia poiska morskogo puti k Kamchatke cherez Severnyi Ledovityi okean” Russkaia tikhookeanskaia epopeia, 334–335. Ed. by V.A. Divin. Khabarovsk: Khabarovskoe kn. izd.

  36. 36

    Catherine II 1979 [1764], “Ukaz Ekateriny II Admiralteistv-kollegii ob organizatsii ekspeditsii dlia issledovaniia ostrovov v severnoi chasti Tikhogo okeana 1764.” Russkaia tikhookeanskaia epopeia, 333–334. Ed. by V.A. Divin. Khabarovsk: Khabarovskoe kn. izd.

  37. 37

    Catherine II “Ukaz Ekateriny II Admiralteistv-kollegii o snariazhenii ekspeditsii dlia poiska morskogo puti k Kamchatke cherez Severnyi Ledovityi okean”.

  38. 38

    Müller “Nachrichten von den neuesten Schiffahrten im Eiβmeer und in der Kamtschatkischen See, seit dem Jahr 1742; da die zweyte Kamtschatkische Expedition aufgehört hat,” 74.

  39. 39

    This also becomes clear from documents on other expeditions, e.g. Arthur Dobbs, 1754. A Letter from a Russian Sea-Officer, to a Person of Distinction at the Court of St. Petersburg: Containing His Remarks Upon Mr. de L’Isle’s Chart and Memoir, Relative to the New Discoveries Northward and Eastward from Kamtschatka, London: J. Robinson, 16; See also Fedorova (2010, 246, 254).

  40. 40

    Müller “Nachrichten von den neuesten Schiffahrten im Eiβmeer und in der Kamtschatkischen See, seit dem Jahr 1742; da die zweyte Kamtschatkische Expedition aufgehört hat,” 20.

  41. 41

    Ibid., 46, 80, and Pavel V. Chichagov 1886, “Zapiski Admirala Pavla Vasil’evicha Chichagova, pervogo, po vremeni, morskogo ministra.” Russkaia starina 50: 239–58.

  42. 42

    Chernyshev’s letter is quoted in full in Sokolov (1858, lxv–lxix).

  43. 43

    Lomonosov, “Pribavlenie vtoroe, sochinennoe po novym izvestiiam promyshlennikov iz ostrovov amerikanskikh”, 513.

  44. 44

    Müller “Nachrichten von den neuesten Schiffahrten im Eiβmeer und in der Kamtschatkischen See, seit dem Jahr 1742; da die zweyte Kamtschatkische Expedition aufgehört hat,” 74 and Chichagov “Zapiski Admirala Pavla Vasil’evicha Chichagova, pervogo, po vremeni, morskogo ministra.”, 239–258, 246.

Published Online: 2013-07-10

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