11 November 2019

BOOK: Stefan B. KIRMSE, The Lawful Empire Legal Change and Cultural Diversity in Late Tsarist Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). ISBN 9781108499439, £ 75.00

(Source: CUP)

Cambridge University Press is publishing a new book on legal practice in late Tsarist Russia.


The Russian Empire and its legal institutions have often been associated with arbitrariness, corruption, and the lack of a 'rule of law'. Stefan B. Kirmse challenges these assumptions in this important new study of empire-building, minority rights, and legal practice in late Tsarist Russia, revealing how legal reform transformed ordinary people's interaction with state institutions from the 1860s to the 1890s. By focusing on two regions that stood out for their ethnic and religious diversity, the book follows the spread of the new legal institutions into the open steppe of Southern Russia, especially Crimea, and into the fields and forests of the Middle Volga region around the ancient Tatar capital of Kazan. It explores the degree to which the courts served as instruments of integration: the integration of former borderlands with the imperial centre and the integration of the empire's internal 'others' with the rest of society.


Stefan B. KirmseLeibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin

Stefan B. Kirmse is a Senior Research Fellow and Research Coordinator at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin and a Senior Lecturer at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He is the author of Youth and Globalization in Central Asia (2013), and the editor of Youth in the Former Soviet South (2011) and One Law for All? (2012).


1. Minority rights and legal integration in the Russian empire
2. Borderlands no more: Crimea and Kazan in the mid-nineteenth century
3. Implementing legal change: new courts for Crimea and Kazan
4. Images and practices in the new courts: the enactment of monarchy, modesty, and cultural diversity
5. Seeking justice: Muslim Tatars go to court
6. Confronting the state: peasant resistance over land and faith
7. Dealing with unrest: crime and punishment in the 'crisis years' 1878–79

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