Geschichte Osteuropas und Südosteuropas




Prof. Dr. Julia Lajus (Berlin)

The Arctic Ocean in Russian History: from the Frozen Frontier to the Facade of the USSR

20.10.2022 18:15 Uhr – 19:45 Uhr

Oberseminar: Kooperationssitzung des Lehrstuhls für Russland-Asien-Studien und der Professur für Geschichte Russlands und Ostmitteleuropas in der Vormoderne

Diese Veranstaltung findet im Historicum, Raum 507 statt.


In the context of Russian history, the maritime image of the Arctic is significant as the country has a vast Arctic coastline and a number of islands in the Arctic Ocean, which is generally heavily reflected in Russian Arctic imagery. The paper reviews the growing significance of the Arctic Ocean (Severnyi Ledovityi okean) in history with the focus on the period from 1860s to 1960s when it became a subject of intensive scientific studies, resource exploration and geopolitical concern. This was a period of search for instructive models for colonization of the oceanic shores during which the imagery of the Arctic as a spatial construct for Russian/Soviet authorities, institutions and public changed from being ‘a frozen frontier’ without any significant development and predominantly internal colonization processes to a ‘resource backyard’ and finally by rapid industrialization and militarization of the 1930s to ‘a façade’ of the Soviet Union. The façade metaphor that goes back to the late 19th century Russian admiral and polar explorer Stepan O. Makarov became especially relevant with the beginning of the Cold War. In addition to analysis of imagery construction and developmental models the narrative includes the consideration of interplay between international and national in research and exploration of the Arctic Ocean as strategies of the state, institutions and individuals.