Baikal: the Great Lake and its People


ACLS Fellowship Program



Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


This project is an environmental history of Siberia’s Lake Baikal, the world’s largest lake, from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries. Despite the Soviet Union’s legacy of ecological degradation, we know little about how Russians viewed or utilized the "natural" world prior to the twentiety century. By exploring the relationship between humans and Baikal (cultural & socio-economic) over the longue durée, this project contextualizes Soviet-era environmental traumas, analyzes broad patterns found at the nexus of Russians and the environment, and discusses the development of Russian conservation efforts. Using the lens of Baikal and the methodologies of environmental history, the study also sheds new light on questions of colonial contact, economic development, Russian identity, and the evolution of science and the sacred in Eurasia.