Paris-Wien-St. Petersburg oder Alger-Brno-Charkiv?: Wissenstransfer und die ‚composite states‘

Jan Surman

Abstract


The exchange of science and knowledge between capital cities has dominated research in recent decades. Imperial provinces have played only a minor role in recent works partly because as independent states, their histories are analyzed by other historians. In this article, I propose an alternative model to conceptualize and describe the contacts between both centers and provinces and between empires. Following ideas of Jurij Lotman, Andreas Kappeler and Moritz Csáky, I maintain that provinces and peripheries function as a necessary and constitutive moment in the intellectual geography of empires, and their interplay with the center prove essential for intellectual productivity. I discuss such processes as multicultural and multilingual exchange, including scholars defining themselves as Polish and Ukrainian, who helped to transmit new knowledge to imperial centers. I claim that the periphery is a privileged space for innovation, which is not constrained by the center’s tight control, but instead subjected to manifold influences enabled though its heterogeneity. For instance, historiographically Kiev served in the 19th century as a center of innovation for the Russian empire. Similarly, John Stewart Mill’s positivism was first discussed in Russian by a multilingual scholar of Polish origin, Baltazar Kalinowski, in St.Petersburg in the context of Polish (inner) Émigré organizations. Philosopher Henryk Struve, professor of Warsaw Main School, then Imperial Warsaw University, on the other hand, helps to visualize entanglements in the sphere of logic and history of philosophy. When Struve received his doctoral degree in Moscow, his controversial views sparked a debate over materialism, engaging several established and younger scholars. Also later, while predominantly writing in Polish, he published in Russian on contemporary philosophy and logic, presenting new insights from his western-peripheral position. Finally, while working in Graz, the Habsburg periphery, sociologist Ludwik Gumplowicz, of Jewish ancestry and Polish national allegiance, not only served a pivotal role in late imperial Russian sociology but also was cited in early Marxist works. Gumplowicz stands for manifold peripheries either though his Jewishness, his Anti-Clericalism and / or his scholarly position. Nonetheless, his sociology came to Russia by detouring through France, where it was popularized first by Réné Worms and his Institut International de Sociologie, a similarly peripheral institution, albeit located in the very center of Paris.


Keywords


history of science; imperial history; periphery; positivism; transfer of knowledge

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2015.3.114

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