Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Hugh D. Hudson, Jr.

Second Advisor

Dr. Denise Z. Davidson

Third Advisor

Dr. Jared Poley

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Bruce J. DeHart


As the Russian government enacted the Great Reforms of the 1850s and 1860s, Siberian students in St. Petersburg at the time came to the realization that urban, judicial, and land reforms had to take place in Siberia in order for the region to develop. Starting with meetings of the Siberian Circle in the capital, regionalists strove to elevate Siberia’s socio-political position within the Russian Empire. Regionalists believed that the Russian government envisioned Siberia exclusively as a place of exile and hard labor, as a territory for natural resources, and as a region unworthy of any real development. The chief theorists of regionalism, Grigorii Nikolaevich Potanin and Nikolai Mikhailovich Iadrintsev, sought to reconceptualize the relationship between European Russia and Siberia while publicizing regional needs. For regionalists, ending the system of Siberian exile, fostering the development of education, and pushing Siberia’s political and economic development would make Siberia a vital and vibrant region of the empire and end Siberia’s traditionally subservient status. Forces constantly pushed regionalism, as regionalists found their movement shaped, in turn, by the Russian state, Siberian realities, revolutionary forces, and civil war.

Regionalists struggled to come to terms with their desire to see Siberia included in the Russian Empire in meaningful ways even as the government treated the region as an economic, political, and cultural afterthought. While regionalists endeavored to construct viable alternatives for regional development, evolving reality did as much, if not more, to shape regionalism, pushing its adherents in new and surprising directions, sometimes against their will.