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03 April 2023

Epidemic Riots of the 1830s: Regional Specificity and Imperial Commonality

Bylye Gody
Epidemic Riots of the 1830s: Regional Specificity and Imperial Commonality

An epidemic is an emergency situation during which conflicts hidden in ordinary times appear. Epidemic riots become such a manifestation. Their special concentration fell on the 1830s and the first cholera epidemic in the Russian Empire. The implementation of anti-epidemic measures, which most often led to a riot, allows us to look at the activities of the local administration. Through the history of rumors, we will also learn about whom the population endowed with power, and whom and for what reasons they considered enemies. Important cases were the events of 1830 in Sevastopol and the so-called “Plague” or “Women's riot”, the St. Petersburg “Riot on Sennaya Square”, the events in St. Petersburg, Olonets and Kazan provinces, in Pskov, Tula and Tver. Speaking about epidemic riots, one should not forget that not in every locality engulfed by an epidemic, the population destroyed hospitals and killed doctors or officials. Such places are characterized by the presence of an active local society, primarily represented by the merchant class. Active actors who from the very beginning of the epidemic participate in the organization of cholera hospitals, which do not represent a “transitional place” from the house to the cemetery, provide food or ready meals to the needy and help the orphans. Through epidemic riots, we will consider general imperial problems and their regional specifics during the reign of Emperor Nicholas I. Through individual cases of plague or cholera riots, it becomes possible to study regional problems, ideas about authorities and enemies. You can also refer to the history of society in the Russian Empire and confirm the thesis that it should be viewed through the regions and speak of a local society, and not a general imperial one.

Source: Ksenia S. Barabanova (2022). Epidemic Riots of the 1830s: Regional Specificity and Imperial Commonality. Bylye Gody. 17(4): 1733-1743

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