- Princeton University
Rather than a nation or state, my subject is a place, the Ob River valley. The Ob originates in the Altai Mountains, a half-open fan in the lengthy chain that forms the spine of the Eurasian landmass. As a drainage system, the Ob (together with the Irtysh tributary) is roughly equivalent to the Yangtze or Mississippi. Its history involves various imperial projects - Turkic, Mongol, Russian, Chinese, Manchu - and the layering of ways of life and mentalities into each other. In a study that strives to become an exercise in world history, I suggest that we try to write the Ob's history outside a single political framework, like the Russian empire, and forwards rather than backwards. My time period is from 1300 to 2000. Primary sources and firsthand observations are used.