Russian Agrarian Scientists, 1820–60:
A Creative Synthesis of Tradition and Innovation
S. A. Kozlov
Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences
This article examines the scientific, economic, and educational activities of several leading scientists who made significant contributions to the intertwining of theory and practice in Russian imperial agriculture within the context of agricultural modernization in 1820-1860, i.e. the period preceding the abolition of serfdom in 1861. This article focuses in particular on M. G. Pavlov, Ia. A. Linovskii, S. M. Usov, I. Ia. Vil`kins, E. A. Avdeeva, and S. A. Maslov. In Soviet historiography this topic was given insufficient attention and many of these scientist farmers were long forgotten for class and ideological reasons (most of them were nobles). The study reveals the role of personality in the development of Russian agrarian science and agricultural practice in this period. The life trajectories of the agrarian scientists were diverse; perhaps the only common feature was that they were not easy. Their paths were determined by both their strong individual characteristics and the broader sociocultural context of the era of “agonizing serfdom.” In delineating the contributions of these scientists to the development of the country, the author concludes that their creative synthesis of tradition and innovation proved worthwhile. They gave Russian agrarian science a strong push for development, while effectively translating advanced theory into practice. Due to the enlightened efforts of such agrarian scientists, more individuals adopted a reasoned and practical approach to the rationalization of backward agriculture. This, along with other factors, including the development of the fundamentals of a national agrarian education, laid a foundation for the modernization of post-reform Russia.
Keywords: Russia, nineteenth century, agricultural history, rationalization, education