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Evgeni Petrov is professor of history at Saint-Petersburg State University. He is author of Russian compatriots at the Historical departments in the US Universities at the beginning of the XX century (2001). His research interests are «Diaspora and Refugee Studies», «Think tanks» and foresight studies, «Rossica» and Russian studies.
Historical Memory in Exile: Russian émigré-historians after 1917
During Interregnum period Russian expatriate-scientists had to face to the saving examples from the recent past. Historical memory played an important role in the consolidation of disparate immigrant forces. Having survived the collapse of the “former greatness” in exile, emigration quickly realized that politics divides, but Science and Education promotes the consolidation of national forces. In the circles of the Russian Diaspora there was creative and educational work due to the efforts of the émigré-historians.
The main trends in the activity of the Russian abroad historians focused on expert, educational, publishing and archival work. The study of social and academic achievements of historians in Exile can explain the internal logic in the development of Russia Abroad History. Some of specialists in Diaspora studies descried their views as open laboratory where can issue an independent Russian public opinion.
The academic heritage and biographies of Vinogradov, Kondakov, Struve, Rostovtsev, Kiesewetter, Miliukov, Vernadsky, Ryazanovsky illustrates the position of the Russian scientific schools in the UK, France, Czechoslovakia, America and China. Today is relevant to research the problem "Historical Memory in Exile: Russian émigré-historians after 1917". This problematic, reveals all the difficulties and contradictions in the development of Emigrant historiography. Archival documents let not only get in use new scientific data from the history of Russian Abroad, but also to rethink their influence on the establishing of Russian studies in European and American Universities.
The study of works and heritage of Russian historians in Exile can understand and appreciate the contribution of expatriates in the development of world science. Many of them held leading positions in foreign universities and professional associations, defining the development of scientific schools and new directions. Due to Russian emigrants efforts developed not only promising areas of scientific knowledge, but evolved didactics and methodology of new disciplines. “Russian academic group» in the West was not only free and open laboratory of social thought, RAG championed by International Congress of Historical Sciences of the right to speak on behalf of the Russian science. «We are not in exile, we are in the message». Russian historian immigrants had a significant influence on the development of professional periodicals devoted to Slavic and East European studies. Many of Russian archival collections were collected with support of the Russian Diaspora by Western libraries and archives. Many Russian archivists and librarians facilitate the gathering of the largest collections and archival materials in such area studies as Rossica.
According to archival sources, the emigrants activities in historical organizations and institutions can be describe as the process of establishing Russian independent centers in the UK, Germany, France, Czech Republic, the USA and China. The formation of professional community had their closed cycles and phases of development. It was based on support of humanitarian foundations and charitable organizations with which opened historical and scientific societies and institutions of the Russian Diaspora, archives and periodicals. After the revolution, the majority of historians, immigrants unite around the Russian academic group, which generally led cultural and educational work in the Diaspora, and actively promote the opening of Russian national universities.