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Please join the Harriman Institute for a lecture by Alexei Kraikovski. Moderated by Catherine Evtuhov.
Kraikovski will present ideas, concepts and conclusions of his book, now submitted to Cambridge Oceanic Histories. His basic idea is to trace and discuss the efforts undertaken by the Russian imperial authorities in the 18th century to make Russia maritime as they understood it. In his research, Kraikovski expands traditional perspectives of this story, for centuries centered around the construction and use of battleships, to the more general concept of maritimity as a combination of social specificities used by the community to represent itself as maritime. From this perspective, apparently heterogeneous measures in various spheres, from shipbuilding to consumption, appear to be integral parts of larger undertakings Kraikovski defines as the Romanovs’ maritime project of the 18th century. Inspired by complex and picturesque images of maritime future, based on the multilayered impressions from the observation of European, predominantly Dutch, maritimity, the Romanovs’ maritime project was epitomized with the construction of St. Petersburg as a maritime metropolis, controlling the maritime economy, shipping, and the sociocultural perception of marine nature in the vast area from the Black Sea to Spitsbergen. Eventually, Kraikovski intends to place this story in the global perspective of Royal maritime projects of the 17th and 18th centuries. This was an important yet so far understudied aspect of the Early Modern Great Divergence. Trying to overcome the growing gap in prosperity and living standards, caused by the dramatic differences in the per capita GDP between the economic leaders of the Atlantic world and the rest of Europe, the rulers of Eastern and Central Europe (the Austrian Habsburgs, the Danish Oldenburgs, the Swedish and Polish Vasa, and the French Bourbons) tried to follow the examples of maritime leaders – England and the Netherlands with various methods, but equally unsuccessfully.