By the same authors

‘The Environmental History of the Steppe in a Global Perspective’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution



Publication details

Title of host publicationEkologicheskaya istorii v Rossii
DatePublished - 2014
Number of pages23
PublisherIzdatel'svo Elabuzhskogo instituta KFU
Place of PublicationElabuga, Tatarstan, Russian Federation
EditorsE.E. Merzon
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)978-5-600-00830-4


Abstract. This paper considers the importance of borderland
regions with environments that differ from the central regions of
states in the development of innovations in conceptualizing the
relationship between human societies and the ‘natural’ world. The
steppe in the south of the Russian Empire is taken as an example.
It is argued that there were three phases to the development of new
understandings of the Steppe environment: encounter and recognition
of difference; exploration and scientific research; and innovation. The
principal innovations considered are genetic soil science, devised by
Vasilii Dokuchaev in the 1870s-80s, and methods of cultivating the
soil to retain scarce moisture, known as dry farming. The article also
considers the transformation of the steppe environment as a result of
wholesale ploughing up over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The significance of the steppe borderland is analyzed in comparison
with the American Great Plains, which borrowed innovations from the
steppe, and European colonialism around the globe.

    Research areas

  • Russia, environmental history, steppe, soil science, dry farming

Research outputs


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