This article conducts an analysis of the activities of the Russian Caucasus scholar A. P. Berge (1828‑1886) with the aim of investigating the process of shaping historical knowledge about the Caucasian periphery of the Russian Empire during the late imperial period. In the public consciousness of that time, the Caucasus was firmly associated with the “East,” allowing for the identification of certain aspects of the impact of the phenomenon of orientalism on the Russian soil. Based on discussions within the academic community regarding orientalism as a colonial discourse, the author, using the specific example of the researcher, demonstrates the influence of state power on the activities of scholars.
A. P. Berge's research practices were adjusted in accordance with the demands of his time, and their outcomes aligned with the spirit of the era. Arriving in the Caucasus as a scholar of the East, with the intention of studying the local culture, he was compelled by political authority to reconsider his scholarly interests and engage in the process of shaping historical knowledge aimed at solving practical challenges faced by the local administration.
Berge, a talented researcher and organizer of Caucasian history studies, recognized the significant role of science in the cultural integration of the Caucasian periphery of the Russian Empire and conscientiously fulfilled the tasks assigned to him by the authorities. His approach to the history of the Caucasus joining Russia was not idealized, and he maintained a pragmatic stance towards the unfolding events. It is noteworthy to highlight his positive contribution to the formation of the source base of Caucasian studies, as well as his genuine interest and sympathy for the region, alongside with the absence of overt imperialistic ambitions. A prevailing theme in his works is the notion of Russia's civilizing mission in the Caucasus, and the scholarly projects he pursued contributed to establishing the foundation for constructing a shared history, aiming at the internal consolidation of the Caucasian territories and their representation as an integral part of the Russian Empire.
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