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Book Discussion: "A World of Empires: The Russian Voyage of the Frigate Pallada" by Edyta M. Bojanowska

Sat, December 8, 8:00 to 9:45am, Boston Marriott Copley Place, 4th, Nantucket

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Brief Description

In this work of history and literature, Bojanowska examines the three-year journey of the Russian ship Pallada as seen through the eyes of Ivan Goncharov, who was secretary to the expedition’s commander, and his published travelogue of the voyage, The Frigate Pallada. Goncharov wrote of the various colonizing empires that had transformed much of the globe in the nineteenth century and reflected on Russia’s own imperial practices in Siberia. His book had a huge influence on how Russians thought about their place in the imperial world and their relationship to other European powers. Goncharov’s book creates a stage on which nineteenth-century European and American empires can be seen to engage in a diplomatic tango—a dance in which Russia was by no means a wallflower. Like the tango, the interaction among them was full of tense energy, dramatic lunges, and close contact, at once uncomfortable and exciting. Rivalry and cooperation went hand in hand. For all their differences, the French, the British, and the Russians could engage one another because they all knew the steps and generally respected the common rules of the dance floor. With perspicacity and prescience, Goncharov’s travelogue detected the interconnections and synergies that we today call globalization.

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