"Historical Investigation of Interactions at the Russian-Kazakh Frontier and Strategies for Ransom Russian Slaves in Central Asia in the 18th and 19th Centuries"

Internal Crossroads Asia presentation by Elena Smolarz (IOA, University of Bonn)

The ransom and release of slaves have formed an ideological basis for Russian foreign policy since the 16th century. In order to release the Christian brother-in-faith and later the subjects of the Russian Empire, imperial institutes were established. Based on imperial financing, the Orenburg Frontier commission (1799-1858) coordinated ransom processes and developed strategies for releasing of Russian subjects in the Kazakh Steppe, in Khiva and Bukhara.

Based on archival research the documents of the “Orenburg Frontier Commission“, which are partly stored at the State Archive of Orenburg and at the State Archive of Republic Kazakhstan, this paper will explore ransom networks and strategies. By analyzing diplomatic documents, institutional correspondence and slave reports, release practices will be reconstructed. Which interaction patterns were established to ransom Russian slaves? What actors were involved? What interests and goals did they have?

After introduction of actors at Russian-Kazakh frontier and their interests, cross-border mobility in the frontier region will be explained as context for ransom processes. By examining the ransom networks and activities of involved actors, the paper provides a deeper understanding of interactions between state, economic and social actors across the frontier. This approach allows a new perspective on coerced mobility of slaves as well as on shifting concepts of belonging concerning frontier population.

25.4.2014, 4-6pm

Bibliothek der Abteilung für Islamwissenschaften, Institut für Orient- und Asienwissenschaften (IOA), Universität Bonn

Regina-Pacis-Weg 7, 53113 Bonn

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