Date of Award

May 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Anne Bonds

Committee Members

Christine Evans, Kristin Sziarto


colonialism, discourse, enlightenment, mapping, orthodoxy, russia


Though many scholars argue that settler colonialism did not firmly come into practice until the late 18th century in Russia, through an analysis of both 17th century historical chronicle narratives and 18th century explorer accounts, I argue that settler colonial discourses and knowledges are already present, laying the groundwork for later settler practices. In the 17th century, chronicle narratives portrayed Siberian territory as a darkened wasteland turned radiant paradise by the presence of Russian Christians and the expulsion of indigenous non-Christians. In the 18th century, discourse changed to produce the increasing view of Siberia as an object of knowledge, great potential, and riches to be extracted and utilized for the state as naturalists and explorers began to describe Siberia in their accounts. Maps, too, produce this shift in knowledge as Russian maps change from traditional and river-oriented in the late 1600s to mathematical and ‘rational’ western mapping by the 1730s. In addition, recent scholarship on settler colonialism has provided greater nuance and context to settler colonies and their character, supporting the conclusion that some aspects of Russian colonialism from 1670-1740 were indeed settler colonial in nature, though unlike more intense western versions. Through discourse analysis of historic chronicles of the late 17th century and traveler accounts of the early 18th century, I argue that settler colonial discourses were present in narratives about Siberian territory since the 17th century and are governed by the epistemes that allowed these discourses to flourish.