Dr. Corrado traces contradictory and competing images of Sakhalin's natural environment as Russia struggled to modernize and convicts were exiled to labor on Sakhalin Island. Evolving descriptions of Sakhalin nature reveal shifting views of not only mankind's perceived "mastery over nature," but also Russian views of science and assumptions about the natural borders of the state. From a perceived land of plenty, welcoming to Russians, by the 1870s, Sakhalin's nature seemed hostile, but conquerable, if scientific principles were followed. In accounts of the 1890s and early 1900s, however, Sakhalin's nature seems stronger than mankind, defying science, although a few activists in 1904-05 tried (in vain) to create a new vision of the island as abundant, obedient, and vital to the empire.
Sharyl Corrado is Associate Professor of History at Pepperdine University, Malibu, California. After completing a 2010 dissertation on the Sakhalin penal colony in the Russian imagination, her work has turned toward historical geography and environmental history of the imperial Russian Far East. Recent publications include articles in the Journal of Historical Geography; Sibirica; and Rossiia i ATR [Russia and the Pacific Rim]. She has also worked extensively on Baptists and Evangelical Christians in late imperial Russia.