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

Raleigh Lecture on History, delivered by Professor Valerie Kivelson, on 6 November 2014 (venue: The British Academy).

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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