“The Most Remote Household of Science”: the West Siberian Experience of Educational Colonization


Public education was as important as military structure, entrepreneurship, and missionary work in developing frontier territories, all of which were used as tools of colonization by modern empires. Imperial experience includes both external and internal colonization. This article presents a social and historical reconstruction of the educational colonization of Western Siberia, considered the longest and most extensive example of internal educational colonization in the Russian Empire. Colonial/peripheral universities were essential to this process, serving as advocates of colonization and agents of decolonization in different historical circumstances. The article analyzes the origins of higher education in Siberia, drawing on discussions about the nature of the soon-to-be Siberian university. Some discussants envisioned an authentic people's, “rustic” university, while others pictured a particularly classical institution of higher education. The author concludes that two models of organizing the peripheral university took shape at the turn of the 20th century in the Russian Empire. The first model involved the creation of a green-field university by sending teachers from metropolitan universities to work in the periphery, which is how Tomsk Imperial University was established. The second model, on the contrary, considered normal schools in place as a base for establishing universities. Later, in the Soviet Union, the second model was primarily used to establish institutions of higher education in the regions.

pdf (Русский)


Ageev, A. D. (2005). Siberia and the American West: The Frontiers Movement. Aspect Press. (In Russian).

Aimanov, K. & et al. (1967). People's education in the USSR. 1917–1967 (M. A. Prokofiev, Ed.). Enlightenment. (In Russian).

Alektorov, A. (1917). Higher education institutions of the West Siberian educational district. Journal of the Ministry of Public Education. New series, LXIX, 65-120. (In Russian).

Asochakova, V. N. (2009). To the question of the periodization of the missionary activity of the Russian Orthodox Church in Siberia. Proceedings of the Altai State University, 4–3, 15–18. (In Russian).

Avrus, A. I. (2001). History of Russian universities. Moscow Public Science Foundation. (In Russian).

Balashov, E. M. (2003). School in Russian society, 1917-1927. Dmitry Bulanin. (In Russian).

Bezançon, P. (2002). Une colonisation éducatrice: L’expérience indochinoise, 1860–1945 [An educational colonization: the Indochinese experience, 1860–1945]. Editions L’Harmattan. (In French).

Blinova, O. V. (2010). Ethno-confessional Schools in Western Siberia at the Turn of the 19th – 20th Centuries: Position and Role of Teachers and Features of Education. Vestnik Omskogo Universiteta, 2, 154–161. (In Russian).

Chekhov, N. V. (1912). People's education in Russia from the sixties of the nineteenth century. Polza. (In Russian).

Chekhov, N. V. (1913). Types of the Russian school in their historical development. Mir. (In Russian).

Churkina, N. I. (2009). Peculiarities of the formation of the system of pedagogical education in Western Siberia (second half of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries). Bulletin of Tomsk State Pedagogical University, 12, 150–154. (In Russian).

Dmytryshyn, B., Crownhart-Vaughan, E. A. P., & Vaughan, T. (Eds.). (1985). Russia’s Conquest of Siberia 1558–1700 (To Siberia and Russian America: Three Centuries of Russian Eastward Expansion) (Vol. 1). Oregon Historical Press. (In Russian).

Etkind, A. (2003). Russian literature, 19th century: The novel of internal colonization. New Literary Review, 59. http://magazines.russ.ru/nlo/2003/59/etk.html (In Russian).

Hall, D. G. E. (1955). A History of South-east Asia. Macmillan.

Henkel, G. (1911). Popular education in the West and here. Brockhaus-Ephron. (In Russian).

In the Province. (1908, August 21). Golos Moskvy. (In Russian).

Ishchenko, O. V. (2009). Interaction of Power and Public in the Development of Education in Tobolsk Province at the Turn of the 19th – 20th Centuries. In Siberian, Tobolsk, and Tyumen provinces: Historical experience and modern management practices (pp. 75–78). Express. (In Russian).

Kareev, N. I. (1916). Historica (Theory of historical knowledge). Typography of M.M. Stasulevich. (In Russian).

Kazantseva, Y. V. (2020). Rebellion against the Minister of Education. Rodina, 3, 102–105. (In Russian).

Khodasevich, V. F. (1931). Derzhavin. Contemporary Notes. (In Russian).

Kivelson, V. (2012). Cartographies of the kingdom: Land and its meanings in seventeenth-century Russia. New Literary Review. (In Russian).

Kolchinsky, E. I., Zenkevich, S. I., & Ermolaev, A. I. (2018). Mobilization and reorganization of Russian science and education during the First World War (E. I. Kolchinsky, Ed.). Nestor-History. (In Russian).

Konev, A. Yu. (2020). Essays on the History of the Tobolsk Diocese (17th – 20th centuries) (P. V. Belous & A. Yu. Konev, Ed.). Publishing house of Tyumen State University. (In Russian).

Korolev, F. F. (1958). Essays on the History of the Soviet School and Pedagogy. 1917–1920. Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the RSFSR. (In Russian).

Kulomzin, A. N. (1899). The all-subject report of the State Secretary Kulomzin A.N. on his trips to Siberia in 1896–1897. State Printing House. (In Russian).

Lamin, V. A., & Nozdrin, G. A. (2007). The Siberian merchant Mikhail Konstantinovich Sidorov. In Personality in the History of Siberia 18th – 20th centuries: a collection of biographical sketches (pp. 116–117). ID Sova. (In Russian).

Leskov, N. S. (1989). Collected Works in Twelve Volumes (Vol. 12). Pravda. (In Russian).

Litoshenko, D. A. (2004). Evolution of university education in Europe in the sixteenth and late eighteenth centuries. Lambert Academic Publishing. (In Russian).

Luzbetak, L. J. (1988). The Church and Cultures: New Perspectives in Missiological Anthropology. Orbis Books, Maryknoll.

Mann, T. (1959). Collected Works in Ten Volumes (Vol. 4). State Publishing House of Art Literature. (In Russian).

Miller, A. (2008). The Romanov Empire and Nationalism. New Literary Review. (In Russian).

Miller, G. F. (1937). History of Siberia. In 2 volumes (Vol. 2). Publishers of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. (In Russian).

Mogilnitskaya, K. I. (1997). Essays on the formation of higher education in Siberia. NTL Publishing House. (In Russian).

Nechaeva, L. V. (2002). Latin Theological Schools of Western Siberia in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century. In Historical and Cultural Development of Western Siberia (pp. 84–88). Tomsk State Pedagogical University. (In Russian).

Nechaeva, L. V. (2005). Orthodox Theological Schools of Western Siberia in the 18th Century (To the 300th Anniversary of a Theological School in Siberia). Proceedings of the Russian State Pedagogical University named after AI Herzen, 5(11), 15–31. (In Russian).

Okushova, G. A. (2010). Preparation of teaching staff in pre-revolutionary Russia. Vestnik Tomsk State Pedagogical University, 11, 80–85. (In Russian).

Perova, O. V. (2014). Development of the network of teachers’ seminaries on the territory of Western and Eastern Siberia in the second half of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century. Vestnik (Herald) of Tomsk State University. History, 2, 5–11. (In Russian).

Poberezhnikov, I. V. (2018). Frontier Modernization in the East of the Russian Empire: Regional Variations. Ural Historical Journal, 61 (4), 72–80. https://doi.org/10.30759/1728-9718-2018-4(61)-72-80 (In Russian).

Portal, R. (2005). Studies in the History, Historiography, and Source Studies of Russia's Regions. Filem. (In Russian).

Potanin, G. N. (1905, June 22). Oblastnichestvo i “Vostochnoe obozrenie.” The Siberian Herald. (In Russian).

Potanin, G. N. (1908). The needs of Siberia. In Siberia, Its Modern State and Its Needs: A Collection of Articles (pp. 260–294). A.F. Devrien. (In Russian).

Prikhodko, N. N. (2007). Frontier theory in geopolitics in the east of Russia. Bulletin of Tomsk State University, 298, 98–102. (In Russian).

Remnev, A. V. (2010). Russian Power in Siberia and the Far East: Colonialism without the Ministry of Colonies – Russian Sonderweg. In Imperium inter pares: Role of transfers in the history of the Russian Empire (1700–1917) (pp. 150–181). New Literary Review. (In Russian).

Remnev, A. V. (2012). The university question in Siberia in the 19th century. Ab Imperio, 2012(1), 121-150. https://doi.org/10.1353/imp.2012.0023 (In Russian).

Rostovtsev, E. A. (2021). St. Petersburg University of the Turn of the 19th – 20th Centuries. As the Center of Science and Public Life. In The Russian Empire Between Reforms and Revolutions, 1906–1916 (pp. 668–688). Quadriga. (In Russian).

Rozhansky, M. (2013). Federalism, internal colonization, and education: The Siberian knot. In Toward a new model of Russian federalism (pp. 232–248). The Whole World. (In Russian).

Saltykov-Shchedrin, M. E. (1969). Collected Works in 20 volumes (Vol. 8). Fiction. (In Russian).

Sen’, D. V. (2020). Frontier research in present-day Russia: Shaky boundaries of the academic dialogue. Studia Slavica et Balcanica Petropolitana, 1, 66–80. https://doi.org/10.21638/spbu19.2020.104

Siberia as part of the Russian Empire. (2007). New Literary Review. (In Russian).

Smirnov, N. N. (1994). At the Turn: Russian Teachership on the Eve and in the Days of the Revolution of 1917. Nauka. (In Russian).

Smith, A. D. (1986). The Ethnic Origins of Nations. Basil Blackwell.

The 20th anniversary of the opening of Tomsk University. 1888–1908 (1908, July 22). Siberian Life. (In Russian).

The first university in Siberia. (1889). Typography of the Sibirskiy Vestnik. (In Russian).

To the estimates of the Ministry of National Education. (1908, May 3). Voice of Moscow. (In Russian).

Tolochko, A. P., Ischenko, O. V., & Skovorodina, I. S. (2005). Development of professional education in Western Siberia in the end of 19th – the beginning of 20th century (Experience of history in the context of modernity). Omsk State University. (In Russian).

Treadgold, D. W. (1952). Russian Expansion in the Light of Turner’s Study of the American Frontier. Agricultural History, 26 (4), 147–152.

Tremble of ignorance. (1888, July 29). Citizen. (In Russian).

Trishina, Y. A. (2009). French Missionaries in Vietnam: Establishing Missionary Schools to Evangelize the Population and Develop Latinized Writing in the Country. Vestnik (Herald) of St. Petersburg University. Language and Literature, 2–1, 142–150. (In Russian).

Vakhtin, N., Golovko, E., & Schweitzer, P. (2004). Russian old-timers of Siberia: Social and symbolic aspects of self-consciousness. New Publishers. (In Russian).

Valieva, E. N., Komleva, E. V., Kuznetsov, I. S., & Ushakova, S. N. (2009). School of general education. In A. A. Lamin (Ed.), Historical Encyclopedia of Siberia: Vol. 3. S–Ya (p. 536). Historical Heritage of Siberia. (In Russian).

Vdovin, A., & Zubkov, K. (2020). Genealogy of School Historicism: Literary Criticism, Historical Science, and the Study of Literature in the Gymnasium of the 1860s-1900s. New Literary Review, 4, 161‑176. (In Russian).

Yadrintsev, N. M. (1892). Siberia as a colony in geographical, ethnographic, and historical terms. Published by I.M. Sibiryakov. (In Russian).

Zamyatina, N. Y. (1998). The Zone of Development (Frontier) and its Image in American and Russian Cultures. Social Sciences and Modernity, 5, 75–89. (In Russian).

Zhivotova, A. N. (2016). At the Origins of Tyumen Higher Education: The Ural Institute of Road Traffic. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, 2(2), 118–128. https://doi.org/10.21684/2411-197X-2016-2-2-118-128 (In Russian).

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.