This talk investigates the political and social history of citizenship in the Russia-Mongolia borderlands in the late tsarist and early Soviet periods through an overview of my dissertation project, “Buriats Beyond Borders: Making and Unmaking Multi-Layered Citizens in the Russia-Mongolia Borderlands, 1890-1938.” Using sources in Russian, Mongolian, and Buriat, the project considers attempts by the Russian imperial, Soviet, and Mongolian states to claim pastoral nomadic Buriats as citizens. The Buriats’ fluid borderland environment oriented them south to Mongolia and west to the Russian imperial and Soviet metropoles. How did citizenship’s equalizing ambitions function given the region’s porous borders, cross-boundary networks, and ethno-confessional inequalities? How did mobile Buriats react to citizenship projects, in both their tsarist and Soviet incarnations? To answer these questions, the project tracks Buriat reactions to settler-colonial peasant resettlement campaigns in the late-nineteenth-century Baikal region, interrogates Buriat ideas on membership in a Russian-dominated empire between 1905 and 1917, and follows Buriats who crossed the Russia/Soviet-Mongolia border from 1918 to 1938. Ultimately, this talk, and the larger project that it surveys, provides a new way of understanding the Russian Empire’s and Soviet Union’s presence in Asia by seeing borderlands and citizenship as sites of interaction, eschewing the received frameworks of ideology, geopolitics, and diplomacy.
Griffin Creech is a PhD candidate in the University of Pennsylvania’s department of history. His dissertation project, the focus of today’s talk, examines the relationships between subjecthood, citizenship, empire, and nation through the prism of the Russia-Mongolia borderlands and the Buriats. Before graduate school, Griffin spent four years living, studying, and working in Mongolia and Russia, including a stint with the United States Peace Corps in northeastern Mongolia. Griffin’s work has been supported by the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, the Bradley Foundation, the American Historical Association, the Association for Asian Studies, and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. His work has appeared in the journal Revolutionary Russia. Griffin will spend the 2023-2024 academic year conducting research in Mongolia, Finland, and the United States as a Cohen-Tucker Dissertation Research Fellow. Read more about Griffin’s work here.
This talk will be recorded and made available to those interested for a limited time shortly following the lecture.