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Grant number: FA-57503-13

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Nicholas B. Breyfogle
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH 43210-1132)

An Environmental History of Siberia's Lake Baikal

This project is an environmental history of Siberia's Lake Baikal (17th-20th cc), the world's largest & oldest lake. Despite the USSR’s legacy of ecological degradation, we know little about how Russians viewed or utilized the “natural” world prior to the 20th c., or how Soviet-era destruction fits into long-term patterns. By taking a longue durée exploration of the relationship between humans and Baikal (both cultural & socio-economic) this study contextualizes these ecological traumas; analyzes the broad patterns found at the nexus of Russians, the indigenous Buriat peoples, & the environment; and discusses the development of Russian conservation efforts. Using the lens of Baikal and the methodologies of environmental studies this project sheds new light on questions of global water history, colonial contact, economic development & resource management, Russian identity, the evolution of Russian science, natural disasters, & the role of the sacred in Eurasian society and culture.

Project fields:
Russian History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2013 – 7/31/2014