Until the mid-nineteenth century, the Amur region had been a virtual terra incognita for the Russian public. However, the region's annexation succeeded in stirring the dreams of the country's most outstanding social and political visionaries, who declared it civilization's most important step forward. A decade later, this enthrallment and optimism had evaporated. Mark Bassin examines Russia's perceptions of the new territories, placing the Amur enigma in the context of Russian Zeitgeist mid-century, and offers a new perspective on the relationship among Russian nationalism, geographical identity and imperial expansion.
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