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“Making” Legible & Loyal Citizens - Deliberations among Russian Bureaucrats about Schooling All-Russia’s Muslims

Tue, Apr 12, 12:00 pm
GISB 3015

Nineteenth-century administrators and proponents of social reform understood education to be a principal instrument of social conditioning and progress. Often considered to be a central driver of modernization, education’s purpose for rationalizing states was to “civilize” and discipline its populations as well as instill faith and loyalty to the regime. Strategic institutions, schools promoted the acceptance of a re-envisioned social order and novel collectivities. Yet the parameters of schooling were far from being universally-agreed upon, particularly in instances in which multi-confessional, multi-ethnic populations had to be considered. Competing educational systems existed. Questions among administrators as to how to assess those systems’ professionals as plausible partners in schooling as well as how to approach minority populations gave rise to lengthy and at times, spirited discourse.

This brown bag talk focuses on my current dissertation chapter which examines central Russian and regional bureaucratic discourse pertaining to the issue of non-Russian (inorodtsy)mass education and teacher-training of Muslims in the Russian Empire. In this first section on mass schooling I use comparative discourse analysis as a method to assess the initial impressions and proposals about state-affiliated education for Muslims in the Kazan, Odessa, and Caucasian school districts. My interest lies in comprehending how and why regional administrators understood the task of Muslims’ education differently as well as to garner a sense of how the Ministry of Education in St. Petersburg drafted policies for the mass schooling of inorodtsy (1870) and native-teacher training of Muslim subjects (1872).

About the Speaker
Aimee Dobbs is a PhD candidate in the Department of History, with a minor in CEUS. Her dissertation, Negotiating “Modern” Education for Muslims: Contestation and Compromise among Russian Imperial Bureaucrats, Local Administrators, and Azerbaijani Turkish Elites, 1867-1900, examines the initial indigenous steps and Russian imperial state-local exchanges that prompted a transition from preeminently religious mekteb/madrasa schooling to new-method (usul-i jadid) and state-affiliated native-language schooling. Her research draws upon published materials and archival documents from the Republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia.