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This article proposes that there is a need for a sustained engagement with and deconstruction of steppe imaginaries in Russian and Soviet literature in the twentieth century. It argues that “steppe” is not solely a term describing a particular environment, but also a pivotal idea which has shaped and shapes identities, cultural assumptions, political reasoning and even geopolitical thought. Based on the review of existing scholarship, the paper demonstrates the centrality of the steppe as a key imaginary for Russian history until the nineteenth century. However, it also reveals that the research on the relevance of such imaginaries for Russian and Soviet political history in the twentieth century is largely absent. Yet, it was during this period that the steppe environments underwent largescale transformations through processes of land reclamation, irrigation development and industrial agriculture.

About the Authors

E. Filep
Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg.
Russian Federation
PhD in Geography. Fribourg.

C. Bichsel
Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg.
Russian Federation

 Professor of Human Geography.



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