Russia controls the longest coast in the North Pacific. Yet, it has been studied predominantly in its relation to the European and the Atlantic worlds. How does our understanding of the Pacific region change if we consider Russia systematically? How does looking at Russia from the Pacific influence our understanding of Russian history?
From the seventeenth century onwards, Russia strove to dominate the North Asian and North American coast and waters. The maritime orientation of Russian colonies in the Pacific provides an important exception to the prevailing vision of Russia as a contiguous empire. Russia’s expansion into the Pacific region had a profound impact on the empire as a whole, its economies, science, international relations, and self-imagination. Through extraction and hunting, trade and industrial development, free and forced migration, social and educational policies, continuing Russian and Soviet colonization have dramatically transformed the region, its ecosystems and population, both indigenous and settler.
Pacific Russia is an online platform of the network project “Russia’s North Pacific” established in 2017 by the German Historical Institute Moscow together with the chair of Russian/Asian studies of LMU Munich. Focusing on Russia’s complex entanglements with China, Japan, (North and South) Korea, Canada and the United States as well as diverse indigenous communities, the project studies Pacific Russia as a region shaped by different peoples and powers, their rivalries, cooperation, and conflicts. The aim of this project is to promote research on the region, foster academic collaboration and facilitate the exchange of information among scholars who study Russia in the Pacific in both past and present.