The Enigma Of Russian Identity Essay

1561 Words7 Pages
Russian identity is an enigma. From the scattered city-states of Kievan Rus to the downfall of the Romanov dynasty, the history of Russia has been defined by various narratives. These narratives come from multiple ethnic groups, religious groups, writers, and leaders, which can be illustrated as the puzzle pieces that construct the enigma of Russian identity. Throughout the history of Russia there too has been a push to centralize Russian identity through the principle of Russification. Furthermore it was the push for these multiple narratives to assimilate into one narrative that was the product of the Tsar. While Russification has taken various forms throughout history it has never been successful in unifying a centralized Russian identity because the narrative of the Tsar has never been static. Looking at the various forms of unification the autocrats take during the Enlightenment Era, Napoleonic Era, and the Conservative Era, one can see the changing narratives of the autocrats and their different definitions of a uniform Russian identity. The rule of the enlightened despot Catherine II was defined by her call for a unified Russia around rationality, education, and the romanticization of western values. As an enlightened despot, Catherine II desired to transform the empire using the theories of the European Enlightenment Era. Theories authored by philosophes like John Locke, Montesquieu and Voltaire, contested previous perceptions of an individual’s role within
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