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Imperial janus: Patterns of governance in the western borderlands of the tsarist empire

Nicklaus Laverty, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Why did the Tsarist Empire opt for different governance strategies in each of the territories of the Western Borderlands (here defined as Poland-Lithuania, the Baltic territories, Finland, and Hetman Ukraine)? The existing political science literature tends to reduce such a question to a distinction between direct and indirect rule, usually developing in the context of a Western European maritime empire. This literature falls short of explaining the Tsarist case and requires the addition of intervening variables concerning the role of local elites and leadership choice. Employing an interdisciplinary literature combining sources from political science, sociology and history, this dissertation develops a structural-institutional approach to explaining patterns of direct and indirect rule that emphasizes the strength and cohesion of local elites, their orientation towards the dominant unit, and the role of leadership choice in the dominant unit. In addition to better accounting for the policy trajectory of the Tsarist Empire, such an explanation can also be applied to other historical and contemporary political systems deciding between centralized and decentralized rule.^

Subject Area

Political science|Russian history

Recommended Citation

Laverty, Nicklaus, "Imperial janus: Patterns of governance in the western borderlands of the tsarist empire" (2014). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3615427.