Call for Papers: Workshop “Foreign Communities in Early Modern Muscovite Cities (c. 1500-1725)”

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Call for Papers: Workshop “Foreign Communities in Early Modern Muscovite Cities (c. 1500-1725)”

13–14 December 2019
Institute of East European History
University of Vienna, Austria

Between the late 15th century and the death of Peter I the State of Muscovy emerged from a rather homogenous Russian-speaking and Christian Orthodox medieval principality to a multi-ethnic and multi-religious empire. A major factor in this development was the conquest of the neighbouring Tatar Khanates and the colonization of Siberia, resulting in the integration of their non-Christian populations into the Russian state. Whereas at the periphery the ethnic balance of the empire was changed by annexing foreign ethnic groups, in its core the ethnic composition was modified by growing numbers of immigrants crossing the western borders of Muscovy to settle inside or near Russian cities. Their presence was accompanied by adaptations in the legal, fiscal, and economic system, as well as in the everyday life of the native citizens. While the immigration to Early Modern Russia of Western experts, mercenaries and artists has been the subject of a vast number of case studies, these have seldom examined another central issue in European-Russian relations ― the role of immigrants in changing the mutual perception of the respective other.

The upcoming workshop "Foreign Communities in Early Modern Muscovite Cites" will therefore focus on matters regarding integration, interaction and perception. Aiming at a comparative analysis, the main points to be considered will be the view of foreign communities from within and without, as well as their place between other minorities in Muscovite Russia. The conference will deal with questions such as:

  • What were the legal, economic and political circumstances that supported or hindered the integration of non-Orthodox subjects into the Muscovite society?
  • How did local authorities and the native population handle the settlement of non-Orthodox inhabitants into existing Muscovite cities?
  • To what extent did the legal and living conditions of non-Orthodox Christians differ from that of other minorities?
  • What kinds of communication and interaction were developed, supported or restricted by authorities and other local agents?
  • How did everyday life, cooperation and conflict influence local perspectives of the other, and how did these perspectives compare to the general discourse of European-Russian relations in the Early Modern era?

The workshop is being organized by the Institute of East European History at the University of Vienna, and will take place Friday and Saturday, 13 to 14 December 2019. It will consist of three panels, each with a keynote speaker as well as two or three twenty-minute papers followed by discussion. The working language of the conference will be English. The University of Vienna will defray all costs for accommodation for two days in Vienna and offers a limited number of travel grants.

Paper proposals (approx. 350 words in English, Russian or German) for a contribution on case studies in all fields touched upon here can be submitted to: Simon Dreher ( by 16 September 2019. All paper proposals should be in the form of a single electronic document (.doc, .docx, .odt or .pdf).


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Mueller
Simon Dreher, M.A.

University of Vienna
Institute of East European History
Spitalgasse 2/Court 3/Entrance 3.2
1090 Vienna, Austria, EU