Julia Fein

  • Fellowship year:2010-2011
  • University: University of Chicago
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Modern Europe
  • Dissertation Title: Cultural Curators and Provincial Publics: Local Museums in Siberia 1887-1941
  • The center of this dissertation is a humanized microhistory of one Siberian museum milieu. At the core of Siberian museum affairs in this period was tension surrounding real and perceived geographical hierarchies of professional, social, and economic status. These hierarchies shaped both conceptions of knowledge production and the struggle for monetary resources with which to take possession of the objects from which knowledge was suppose to be extracted. In order to advance the understanding of Russian/Soviet social history, it is essential to relate these conceptions and tensions to the social, economic, and emotional relationships binding people to each other and to their localities; to the specific conditions of geography and administration of geographical space; to networks of exchange and communication; and, most importantly, to the nature and implications of the highly human microeconomic practices shaping and giving meaning to all of these activities. This dissertation is a redirection of both empire studies and museum studies away from a focus on representation identity, and propagation of hegemonic imperialist narratives toward a more fruitful emphasis on multivalent economic interactions and their social, cultural and political implications. This approach expands the definition of participation in science and cultural life and how it is constructed in the cyclical process of circulation, collection,and consumption that constitutes the mission of local museums.