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Explaining and Managing Epidemics in Imperial Contexts: Russian Responses to Plague in the Kazakh Steppe in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries


  • Anna E. Afanasyeva

    () (National Research University Higher School of Economics)


A series of plague outbreaks that occurred in the Kazakh steppe between 1899 and 1910s, with several thousand people dead, made the region a focus of medical, state and public attention of the period. The epidemics initiated a wide-scale research on the ways of life and conditions of living of the local population, resulting in the largest amount of texts ever written on the Kazakh steppe. The region turned into an arena of cutting-edge medical research performed by the leading bacteriologists of Russia, whose findings played an important role in the development of plague epidemiology worldwide. This paper concentrates on both the scope of the measures undertaken by Russian medical administration to control the disease, and the range of explanatory theories produced by the doctors in their attempts to identify the cause of the recurrent epidemic and provide the means of its eradication.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna E. Afanasyeva, 2017. "Explaining and Managing Epidemics in Imperial Contexts: Russian Responses to Plague in the Kazakh Steppe in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries," HSE Working papers WP BRP 145/HUM/2017, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:145/hum/2017

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    Russian empire; epidemiology; anti-plague campaigns; medical administration; knowledge;

    JEL classification:

    • Z - Other Special Topics

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