The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Tower of Babel

Carl von Dittmar wrote historical and ethnographic studies of the peoples of Kamchatka based on his travels there between 1851 and 1855. This map is dated 1853; he published a detailed explanation of the categories represented in the map legend in 1854. If you read German, you can consult it here (see pages 16-18)

This "modern" spin on ethnographic mapping involved not simply evoking the presence of a diverse group of peoples (which was the hallmark of a great empire in the 18th century), but imposing order on that diverse group of peoples. In a sense, von Dittmar's map is an attempt to bind certain peoples to certain spaces through washes of color (and certainly through those neat, horizontal blue lines marking Russian settlements).

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