(For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Mershon Center web site.)
This conference is the first of two, linked international conferences focused on the provision, management, use, and cultural meanings of water and its relationship to patterns of human culture, politics, technology, and socio-economic organization across geographies and chronologies. The conference will focus on two related themes: “Water and Power” and “Controlling Water.” The second conference will take place in mid-May 2017 and will focus on the intersecting topics of “Water and Culture” and “The Effluent Society.” Through these four themes our program spans a broad range of vital and interconnected topics posed by “water.” The conferences, which will be held at the Mershon Center at the Ohio State University, will be run as workshops with papers distributed in advance to ensure the most productive discussions and will include “keynote” lectures, one for each theme. Papers will be published either in edited volumes or special issues of environmental history journals.
“Water” constitutes a multi-faceted topic of overwhelming historical and contemporary significance. Water defines every aspect of life: from the ecological to the cultural, religious, social, economic, and political. Without the molecule H20, life as we understand it would cease to exist. Water remains at the center of human activity: in irrigation and agriculture; waste and sanitation; drinking and disease; floods and droughts; religious beliefs and practices; fishing and aquaculture; travel and discovery; scientific study; water pollution and conservation; multi-purpose dam building; in the setting of boundaries and borders; politics and economic life; and wars and diplomacy. Water also plays an important symbolic role in works of literature, art, music, and architecture, and it serves as a source of human beauty and spiritual tranquility.
The study of water poses questions that cross boundaries: physical, political, cultural, and disciplinary. It constitutes an ideal theme for collaborative and comparative analysis over a range of methodological perspectives. The two conferences will also extend the scope of the investigation beyond human dimensions to the biosphere as a whole. By bringing together a range of ecological, geographical, chronological, and methodological perspectives, the program addresses pressing issues at the intersection of culture, environment, health, biology, and economy. “Water” recurs as a theme in news, policy, and academic discussion, carrying different meanings and values, many associated with issues of societal survival, resilience, prosperity and conflict. Sometimes it appears as a tool: a means of transportation, an irrigation source, a reservoir, the base of ecosystem services. At other times it lies at the heart of a crisis: a tsunami, a flood, a vehicle of pollution, a vector of disease, a source of international contention or conflict. Its meaning and value change across time and space and vary from one human community to the next.
Water resources—the need for clean and accessible water supplies for drinking, agriculture, and power production—already represents one of the most complicated dilemmas for major parts of the twenty-first century world and promises to grow in importance. The World Water Forum has reported that one in three people across the planet will not have sufficient access to safe water by 2025. As population grows, glaciers melt, and aquifers are depleted, many analysts anticipate that the world will fight more over water than any other resource in future decades. Rationing the world’s water will be a foundational ethical question of the twenty-first century.
Further, oversupply of water – floods – represent a continuing threat to populations even in the economically and technologically advanced regions of the world. The World Commission on Large Dam’s estimates that more than 50% of Japan’s population is subject to flood risk. Hurricane Katrina provided sharp reminder for Americans of their own exposure to flood risk. Both cases raise issues of the culpability of modern riparian management designed to limit flood risk.
As the world faces the challenges of water usability, supply, and more, human societies’ past experience managing water can offer a stimulus to thinking outside the limited array of perspectives that dominate debate today. Two examples are suggestive: Early Modern Japan worked out extraordinarily sophisticated approaches to managing water conflicts that have been suggestive of how to deal with similar issues today, most prominently in the work of Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom (Governing the Commons and other work). In other instances, past mechanisms of flood amelioration in Japan and elsewhere involved less ecological impact than reinforced concrete dikes and dams, and today, in Niigata Prefecture, a company has been formed to deploy other traditional techniques of water control to replace concrete structures. Equally important, past experiences can suggest complications to common solutions and approaches to water management that should be avoided or for which compensatory plans require development, especially the need to be alert to unintended environmental and social consequences of narrowly conceived solutions to specific water-related challenges (e.g., the ways in which installing new concrete dikes changes hydraulic characteristics of rivers leading to the collapse of dikes that had long withstood flood ravages in the area south of Niigata City, Japan, in 2004).
· the Mershon Center for International Studies,
· Ohio State College of Arts and Humanities,
· East Asian Studies Center,
· Center for Slavic and East European Studies,
· the Institute for Korean Studies,
· History Department,
· Environmental Studies Network,
· the Sustainable and Resilient Economy Discovery Theme at Ohio State,
· and the Northeast Asia Council Japanese Studies Grant
Abstracts and Tentative Schedule
Dinner Thursday night
Day 1 (Friday): Controlling Water
Inland waterways and oceans play vital historical roles, presenting both opportunities and hazards to human society. This segment of our program considers human efforts to harness water, contain its destructive power and the unintended consequences that often follow these efforts. Participants will explore the history of floods and flood control, irrigation and drought protection, the politics of dams, and the histories of individual lakes and rivers as reshaped by human engineering for reasons of transport, hydroelectricity, flood prevention, and waste disposal). The program also focuses on the human nexus with flora and fauna, including efforts at conservation and protection of watery environments. We seek to illuminate the ways human efforts to manage water transformed physical and hydrological systems, linked ecosystems, and the political, economic, social, and cultural structures of human communities.
Introduction to the Workshop 9-9:30
Session I: Ensuring Supply: 9:40-11:00
I-1) Megan Duncan Smith, Harvard. “Engineering the Dnipro River: Water and Energy in Southern Ukraine, 1950-1965”
Following severe drought in 1946, the post-war Soviet Union was consumed by a crisis in its agricultural “breadbasket.” Solutions in the late 1940s focused on the reclamation of wetlands and the introduction of shelter belts, collectively known as “Stalin’s Plan for the Transformation of Nature”. In 1950, a series of resolutions issued by the Soviet Council of Ministers announced the planned construction of massive hydro-engineering projects across the Soviet Union. These “Great Construction Projects of Communism” represent a shift from transforming the natural environment in general, to controlling water specifically.
This paper will look at the Ukrainian contribution, the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Complex on the lower Dnipro River, linking it to the larger All-Union project. Combining recent archival research in Kiev, Kharkiv, and Kherson with published scientific and cultural sources, I will trace the transformation of the lower Dnipro River during the construction of the Kakhovka Complex. Across these diverse sources, I will explore the themes of cultural loss, engineering nature, and water use as a contested source of power. How were the gains and losses of this transformation represented and debated by artists?
I- 2) Ruth Mostern, University of California, Merced. “Loess is More: Arid Asia and the Yellow River Disaster Regime”
Starting in the eleventh century, the Yellow River shifted from a long-term condition of relative stability to a later state of frequent floods and course changes. Historical sources record the dates and characteristics of flood events, while soil cores reveal the increasing quantity of annual sediment deposition and its origin on the loess plateau. All evidence confirms that the primary cause of the change was intensification of human activity in the grasslands of the Ordos basin, the loess soil region contained within the great bend of the Yellow River. Settlement there was sparse until the eleventh century, when mounting contention between Chinese and Tanguts led both sides to fortify the region. By 1044, there were over 300 stockades on the grasslands. The fields, pastures and lumber operations of these remote and largely self-supporting outposts destroyed fragile ground cover and exposed erosion-prone sand and soil that made its way into the Yellow River through a process of wind and water deposition. This paper is part of a larger project that frames the Yellow River as both an earth system and a world system. As the former, the river was a single entity in which events upstream had predictable impacts downstream. From a political perspective, however, the river passed from an arid periphery to a wet one, and it was never politically feasible to act upon environmental knowledge or to manage the entire river in a holistic way.
Session II: Conservation, Environmentalism, and the Politics of Development 11:30-12:50
II-1) Mark Sokolsky, The Ohio State University, “Rice, Water, and Race in the Soviet Far East, 1918-1938.”
This paper addresses the emergence of irrigated rice agriculture in the Russian Far East between 1918 and 1938, and the ethnic tensions that occurred as a result. During the Russian Civil War (1918-1921), Korean migrants imported strains of rice adapted to northern climates into Russia’s Maritime Territory (Primor’e). The cultivation of (wet) rice spread rapidly in the territory in the early 1920s, accompanied by the proliferation of small-scale, ad-hoc irrigation works operated almost exclusively by Koreans.
Soviet engineers, agronomists, and officials were initially enthusiastic about the introduction of rice in Primor’e, but they soon came to believe that Koreans’ methods were backward, harmful to Russian settlers, and ecological destructive. Building on the belief (which was widespread among tsarist-era elites) that East Asian peoples were profligate users of natural resources, Soviet planners sought to replace Koreans’ rice-farming methods with “modern” practices (principally mechanization), which they believed would better suit the needs of Russian settlers and (after 1930) collectivization. Ultimately, it was Primor’e’s Koreans themselves who were replaced—deported in 1937-38 to Central Asia—while the rice farms retained their combination of planned and informal irrigation systems. In this way, the paper shows that control over water contributed to growing tensions between Koreans, Russian settlers, and the Soviet state, and that Soviet authorities invoked environmentalist arguments in the service of ethnic Russification.
II-2) David Pietz, University of Arizona, “The Baiji: Writing the History of Extinction on the Yangtze River”
In 2006 an international research team spent weeks on the Yangtze River searching for evidence of the Baiji Dolphin. Long considered a highly endangered species of freshwater dolphin, the habitat of the Baiji had been increasingly threatened during the post-Mao reform period as exploitation of river resources increased in range and intensity. The survey expedition found no evidence of surviving dolphins. This paper attempts to place explore the social construction of extinction in contemporary China. On the one hand, this story is a familiar one – species extinction as a result of human exploitation of the natural habitat of the Baiji. But beyond this declension-ist narrative is a story of the meaning of biodiversity loss in China. In a preliminary fashion, the paper explores questions about the cultural meaning of animal life in China. Additional questions include: What are acceptable costs of “development” among constituencies in China? What were the acceptable terms of “conservation” between teams of Chinese and western scientific groups engaged in Baiji rehabilitation efforts? Are there differing cultural frames for the comprehension of “extinction?” The paper will also attempt to explore these issues in a global framework that places the extinction of the Baiji in the comparative historical experiences of freshwater dolphins in a variety of cultural contexts.
Keynote Lecture: Jamie Linton (Queen’s University), “Fluid relatives - The hydrosocial cycle as a tool for doing the history of water,”
As noted in the preliminary conference program, the study of water poses questions that cross boundaries: physical, political, cultural, and disciplinary. Indeed, in any given historical instance, water becomes what it is within a matrix of relations that link physics, politics, culture, and discipline. To me, doing the history of water means identifying the various circumstances within which water is identified and made use of by people in different times and places, as well as studying the forces of continuity and change in such identities and uses. We have developed the idea of the hydro-social cycle for this purpose; it is a conceptual tool that draws attention to the social nature of water and to the hydro-social relations that co-produce water and society in a dialectical process. Thinking through the hydro-social cycle suggests how the three key themes of the conference – water (and) power (and) controlling water – may be considered as mutually constitutive elements in the history of water. While attempting to tie together some of the ideas and these raised in the various papers to be presented at the conference, in this keynote talk, I will introduce the hydro-social cycle and describe how I am applying it to study of the history of rivers in France.
Coffee and snacks: 3:30-4:00
Session III: Overabundance: Responding to Floods 4:00-6:00
III-1) Yasuaki CHINO, Nihon University, “Lessons from the Past? Suggestions from Early Modern Japanese Riparian Engineering”
The early modern era of Japanese history (ca. 1570-1868) has bequeathed to us a rich array of documents that describe increasingly ambitious efforts to reduce the impact of floods through combined use of dikes, overflow channels, the creation of new streams, and altering the course of rivers as engineers found them. The methods employed reveal a sophisticated use of natural materials and the existing topography to engineer reduced flood risk in ways that were quite different from those employed in places like Europe. Nonetheless, these works achieve some significant results. This reliance on natural materials and geography suggest ways in which modern riparian engineering might alter its environment-damaging “hard” approach in order to reduce environmental costs while still promoting reduction of disruption, damage and loss of life due to flood hazards.
III-2) Ling ZHANG: Dyking or Diverting, Blocking or Channeling: Yellow River Hydraulics in Northern-Song and Jin China, 960-1234 CE
This paper examines how two imperial states in middle-period China made deliberate hydraulic decisions, employed opposite techniques, and conducted contrast flood-control projects to the two sides of the flood-prone Yellow River. The paper begins by showing that, during the first half of the Song dynasty (960-1127), the state’s hydraulic politics had steadily formulated certain hydraulic technology to reshape the river’s hydrological mechanism. It not only pushed the river to shift northward toward a northern land of Hebei, but also locked the river’s meandering body and its catastrophic effects inside that land through the second half of the dynasty. After 1128, the environmental circumstances of north China and the political dynamics among the state, the river, and the regions lying on both sides of the river took a 180-degrees turn. The Jin state (1115-1234) carefully guarded the northern land of Hebei by encouraging the disastrous river to flow southward and confining the river’s flooding within a southern land called Henan. By asking why remarkably different the two states’ hydraulic preferences and decisions appeared, the paper argues how fundamentally similar the states’ perceptions of the river were, so were their understandings of their existence within the broad environmental context of north China and their deliberate choices and implementations of certain hydraulic technology.
III-3) Shin’ichiro NAKAMURA, Nagoya University, “A History of ‘Design Flood’ -Why Does Japan Use ‘Probability’ to Make Flood Prevention Plans?”
“Design flood” is hypothetical flood to make flood prevention plan. In Japan, a probability method based on precipitation data is used to define the scale of design flood: Tone River, the biggest river in Japan, is 1 in 200 years, Shinano River is 1 in 150 years, and so on. It is one of important river management issue how to set a reasonable and acceptable design flood.
The method to set design flood vary among countries. Although the probability method is also used in Netherland, but the base data is water level or discharge data and the probability is 1 in 1250 years (in fresh water section). On the other side, USA and China apply the maximum flood method which set the design flood based on the historical or probable maximum flood. This cases can leads a question: “what is the reason why the method vary among countries?” or “why does Japan use the probability method?” The purpose of this study is to clarify the historical process which the probability method was developed in Japan based on historical archives.
In the late 19the century, the concept of “discharge” and modern river engineering were imported by Dutch engineers, and modern flood prevention plans were developed in Japan. In these plans, the design floods were set based on the historical maximum method. Although the historical maximum method had been used until World War 2, however, the method was changed to the probability method after the war because of limitations of historical maximum method under the specific socio-economic situations: (1) the budget limitation due to the war and the GHQ occupation, (2) the historical floods: Makurazaki typhoon in 1945, Kathleen typhoon in 1947, Ione typhoon in 1948, and so on, attacked Japan and broke the record of historical maximum discharge in main rivers and the flood disasters made the flood prevention projects difficult to complete. Then, Japanese hydrologists imported the hydrological probability statistics from the West to take account of socio-economic situation in design flood, and they applied to Japanese rivers in 1958. The probability method was applied to adapt the specific socio-economic and natural situation during the confusion after the war in Japan.
Day 2 (Saturday): Water and Power
From the earliest large irrigation works, control over water has involved control over people; who gets what benefits, but also control over the labor and resources necessary to build, maintain, and sustain water control facilities. The intersections of water and political, economic, and social power historically span domestic and international politics and operate at scales ranging from the local to the global. Over the past few centuries, the ability of government and enterprise has grown to marshal financial and material resources to construct massive hydraulic projects, plan the development of major international waterways, and alter the real or perceived threat of water shortages in the face of social and climatic changes. Participants will consider the role of water in national development schemes, water distribution as a tool of political power, international disputes over waterways and water supplies, and the place of water in armed conflicts, including the use of water as a weapon (e.g., destroying an enemy’s dikes and dams, and poisoning water supplies). Building on the broad (often criticized) discussions of the relationship between water management and political power proffered by Karl Wittfogel (Oriental Despotism) and James Scott (Seeing Like a State), we charge participants to explore not only how ruling elites and states plan and utilize projects, but also to explore the ways in which political power and social hierarchies have themselves been defined and redefined by water and its control.
Session IV: The Power of Water 9:00-11:00
IV-1) Scott Levi, The Ohio State University, “The Khan Giveth, and the Khan Taketh Away: Water and its Uses in the Rise and Fall of the Khoqand Khanate, 1709–1876”
Central Asia’s semi-arid ecology has long shaped the states and societies that occupy the region. At the end of the 15th century, Babur’s memoirs portray the Ferghana Valley as a wilderness paradise, punctuated by a few agricultural settlements where farmers produced exceptionally high-quality peaches, melons, grapes and other fruits. By the time of the Russian conquest in the late nineteenth century, irrigation agriculture in the Valley had expanded to cover nearly the entire Valley, which was home to a population several times larger than during Babur’s time. This paper will introduce the Khoqand Khanate’s deliberate efforts to use of water — both providing and denying it — as a means for expanding its resources, expanding its territory, and controlling its population.
IV-2) Paul Josephson, Colby College, "Water and Power in the 21st Century: Putin's Dam Builders and Russian Politics" [Via Skype]
This paper will focus on domestic issues, in particular the reborn "RusGidro" and plans to build dams and canals in Siberia that rival Soviet projects, but will also include comments on the efforts of the Russian government to sell hydropower projects abroad. Hence for Vladimir Putin management of water through big state-funded projects is about electrical power, agriculture power, and political power and political legitimacy.
IV-3) Alan Roe, Georgetown University, “The ‘Altai Alternative”: Tourism and the Fight Against the Proposed Katun Hydroelectric Station in the Altai Mountains.”
This paper looks at the successful efforts of scientists, civic organizations, and Russian environmentalists in opposing the construction of the Katun Hydroelectric Station. As environmental concern grew in the USSR during the late 1980s, big dams, which had once been a symbol of the Soviet state's transformation of the Siberian hinterland, became associated with egregious acts of technocratic hubris that brought vast destruction to nature. With this shifted paradigm and national parks gaining increasing popularity as a means of making environmental protection economically expedient, the opponents of the project called for the creation of Katun National Park, which they believed could transform the region to an internationally recognized tourism destination.
Sesssion V: Water and State-Building 11:30-12:50
V-1) Eric G. Dinmore, Hampden-Sydney College, “Channeling Japanese Growth in the Twentieth Century”
This essay surveys the twentieth-century history of damming in Japan’s pursuit of “development,” and it pays particular attention to the logic behind the country’s largest dam projects. Such logic viewed the river water of Japan as a “resource” (shigen) too vital to leave to natural forces or private interests and consequently favored state collusion with large dam developers as a means to achieving national socioeconomic security. As an archipelagic country that receives high annual levels of rain and snowfall, Japan has always had a geography and society defined by water. Premodern Japanese irrigated paddy land, subsided on aquaculture, constructed canals, carried out sophisticated flood control projects, and even built cities such as Edo (present-day Tokyo) around tidal flats and estuarine waters. Although Japanese energy and material consumption rose sharply after industrialization at the end of the nineteenth century, water use truly intensified in the twentieth. Shortly after the turn of the century, a costly victory in war against Russia, maintenance of a growing colonial empire, heavy industrialization, and electrification spurred interest in damming as a means of alleviating what policy commentators by then referred to as Japan’s “resources problem” (shigen mondai). Although such commentators generally bemoaned Japan’s meager endowments in natural resources—particularly in comparison to larger world powers such as the United States, Russia, or the British Empire—many held faith that their country’s abundant river water could help power a growing economy, bolster imperial defenses, and offset a dependence on imported energy. They looked overseas to a variety of models for large dam projects, such as those in the Swiss Alps, the Volga-Don system, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Beginning especially with 1930s “comprehensive development” (sōgō kaihatsu) projects in the colonial laboratories of Manchuria, Japanese engineers, construction firms, and laborers erected enormous dams designed to electrify an autarkic “Greater East Asia.” Defeat in 1945 stripped Japan of its empire and any dreams of autarky, but repatriated colonial dam builders turned their attention homeward as policy leaders called for their country to become an “economic great power” that made full use of hydroelectricity and other domestic energy sources. From the 1950s through the 1980s, Japan’s hydrosphere became one of the world’s most heavily dammed, with almost ninety-seven percent of all river water either flowing over or collecting behind a dam wall. Despite the rise of anti-dam movements and a slowdown in dam construction near the turn of the twenty-first century, numerous dam projects remained on planning books, especially those designed for flood or silt control in river systems already outfitted for hydroelectric generation. Moreover, developments in climate science gave dam proponents new rationales: that dams would be necessary as producers of “clean,” renewable energy, as well as mitigators of the violent storm effects that accompany global warming. In twentieth-century Japan, water would not simply run its course.
V-2) Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted, Eastern Washington University, "Volga-Volga: Harnessing a Soviet River."
My paper examines Stalin’s development of the Volga from the 1930s until the early 1950s. Part of the material will be new as I’ll go beyond the Moscow Volga Canal and explore the development of the lower Volga for hydropower. Further, I will draw comparisons with some of the larger projects undertaken elsewhere in the world, such as the U.S., India and Germany, to name a few. This topic, i.e. national development, is an excellent illustration of Scott’s thesis of high modernism which I will incorporate in the paper.
Session VI: State-Building and Empire: 2:00-3:20
VI-1) David Fedman, University of California, Irvine, "Seeding Like a State: Erosion Control and Watershed Management in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945."
At the heart of Japanese efforts to reclaim a peninsula routinely called "a land of bald mountains" was the emerging discipline of erosion control (sabō jigyō). In the eyes of colonial bureaucrats, erosion control was essential not only essential to afforestation, but also for water control, agricultural production, and rural revitalization. Flooding was a serious concern for forestry bureaucrats throughout the period of colonial rule, and erosion control through tree plantation was seen as a first line of defense. I could give a paper that examines the mechanics of erosion control in Korea as well as Japanese perceptions of the cascading consequences of deforestation. It could touch on subjects including the persistent problem of slash-and-burn agriculture, the role of local level institutions (such as chohap/kumiai), and the emergence and training of so-called "bald mountain experts" in Japan and Korea.
VI-2) Beatrice Penati, Nazarbayev University, “A Field Upstream is Better than a Mirab Brother”: Who Paid for the Water in Tsarist Turkestan?
I propose an exploratory -and vaguely polemical- paper that explicitly distances itself from most of the extant literature on ‘water and power’ in Central Asia. This literature has expanded our knowledge in three directions: it has looked at the ‘water and power’ nexus from the viewpoint of colonial administrative practices, it has gauged the desired and actual impact of modern engineering on and in competition with local hydraulic technology, and has emphasized the incommensurability between native and non-native notions of water rights. More generally, the impact of the Postcolonial Turn on the community of students of modern Central Asia has led to the over-estimation of the racial cleavage between colonizers and colonized (and between their respective systems of knowledge, legal systems, etc.), while more earthly questions of costs and their allocation have not been explored yet. Furthermore, historians have mainly focused on new irrigation works, while neglecting the day-by-day functioning of the ‘native’ irrigation systems on which the vast majority of the economy of Turkestan depended.
One of these unanswered questions concerns the costs of the maintenance of the ‘native’ irrigation system. The sources talk about a duty in kind (naturopovinnost’) to be provided by water users as members of a village community. On the basis of data collected from different sources on localities of the Samarkand province, I explore this notion of ‘duty in kind’ and try to understand how its burden was allocated. I contend that the payment for the usage of water had little to do with the amount of water actually consumed by an individual village. I also discuss the relation between this ‘duty in kind’ and the local taxes (zemksii sbor) which the civil-military administration collected and partly re-invested in irrigation works.
Session VII: Water and the Culture of State-Building 3:50-5:10
VII-1) Robert Winstanley-Chesters, “Hydraulic Foundations: North Korean Hydrological Engineering and its connections with Political Charisma, Development and Statecraft,”
National mythologies, connected topographies and commemorations are often inseparably connected to political narrative. North Koreas’ historical narrative for instance, contains frequent resistive encounters with the imposed legacies of Japanese colonial development, including an extensive programme of dam building and hydrological engineering. In-spite of this difficult developmental inheritance, post 1945, North Korea’s government has frequently asserted political authority derived in part from that legacy, even while formulating its own vision of ‘revolutionary’ statecraft.
VII-2) Alexei Kraikovski, European University at St. Petersburg and Julia Lajus, High School of Economics, “Like a Groom on His Wedding Day” -- The Gulf of Finland as the Metropolitan Bay of Russia and The Baltic Sea in the Environmental, Technological and Cultural History of St. Petersburg.
The paper is built around the concept of Gulf of Finland as a former metropolitan bay of the “big St. Petersburg” which can be described as the area including the city itself and the territories easily and comfortably available for the citizens on the contemporary level of technologies. Therefore, this concept has environmental, technological, social and cultural aspects that are to be discussed in more details.
Culture. When the Russian Empire established military and political control over the Eatern part of the Baltic Sea, the new stage of familiarization started. The Russians had to comprehend the Baltic Sea, to include it into the cultural geography of their home country. The 18th c. literature and arts reveal the image of the Gulf of Finland as part of European environment that was badly managed by the Swedes and “Happy like a Groom in his wedding day” under the sovereignty of the Russian rulers (very picturesque image proposed by Mikhail Lomonosov) and the new capital of the young and dynamic Empire, rapidly growing on the islands in the delta of the Neva, was conceptualized therefore as the new Baltic metropolis.
Technology. The water transportation was crucially important for St. Petersburg before (and even after) the construction of railroads. Eventually the invention of steamboats opened opportunity to incorporate into that zone rather remote places including even the manors, situated in nowadays Estonia (for instance, Schloss Fall, located near Tallinn). Two things are to be discussed concerning the importance of the transportation technologies for the formation of the Big St. Petersburg. Firstly, those technologies have made this space social – indeed, the Big St. Petersburg of the rich and noble people who had access to the advanced technologies was much bigger than that of the poor population. Secondly, we can draw a parallel between the importance of the water communications in the Netherlands, described by J. de Vries, and the situation in the Early Modern St. Petersburg, where the water transportation became the earliest kind of the public transport in the modern sence of this word, i.e. regular, affordable and routine part of the urban everyday life.
Environment. The authorities have considered the Gulf as an environment that had to be tranfomed in order to serve to the imperial capital in variety of ways. That’s the initital point of impressive works including fortification of the shore and the islands, the decoration of the picturesque coastal areas and the transformation of the water environment itself. We argue that the fortifications of the Gulf of Finland from Kronstadt in the East to the forts of nowadays Paldiski in the West including Sveaborg in Helsinki are to be considered and studied through the perspective of the Big St. Petersburg and the same is true for the manorial complexes of the coastal areas including Peterhof and Oranienbaum. The transformation of the water environment in the Early Modern time included the coast protection, the devvelopment of fishing stations network in the Neva delta and quite exotic undertakings of introduction of the oceanic species into the Gulf like oysters. The big technological projects that included the completion of artificial fairways for the seagoing ships as well as the construction of the damb in order to protect the city from the destructive floods, were things of the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Heritage. In one word, the imperial capital have created the grandiose heritage complex on the banks and islands of the Gulf of Finland that is to be considered through the perspective of unity and network links. All these diverse marine heritage now split between several countries with rather different practices of management of heritage, politics of historical memory, place of maritime history in national historical narratives.
Conclusion: discussion and contexts. We argue that the history of interrelations between the Gulf of Finland and the Northern capital of Russia considered as an imprtant part of the “Big St. Petersburg” concept is to be studied through more general historic context. Firstly, this is a part of the Europeanization and Westernization of Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Russians considered the Eastern Baltic region as the most European part of the enormous Empire from the cultural point of view and therefore St. Petersburg as the metropolitan center of this area and a gateway for this “Europeanness” into the space of Eurasia. Looking for the global comparative perspective, we propose to pay attention to the case of Macau and Hong Kong. Those ports, the Eastern gateways of Eurasia in the estuary of the Pearl river opening the way for the Europeanness into the central parts of another continental Empire, seem to be much better comparable with the case of the Russian metropolitan bay than the frequently cited examples of Venice, Amsterdam and London.
Wrap up, Concluding Remarks: What have we learned and where do we go from here. 5:15-6:00
Sunday Morning: Travel home.
Nick Breyfogle (Ohio State): firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Brown (Ohio State): email@example.com
Eric Dinmore (Hapden-Sydney): firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan Duncan-Smith (Harvard) email@example.com;
Levi, Scott (Ohio State) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beatrice Penati (Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan) email@example.com
David Pietz (University of Arizona): firstname.lastname@example.org
NAKAMURA Shinichiro (modern Japan): email@example.com
Sokolsky, Mark (Ohio State) firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Roe (Georgetown email@example.com)
Zeisler-Vralsted, Dorothy (eastern Washington u) firstname.lastname@example.org;
ZHANG, Ling (Boston College): email@example.com)