Conquering Nature in Sakhalin and the Arctic

Imperial expansion is as much about conquering nature as it is about subjugating people. The Russian state’s expansion to the edges of the Eurasian continent exemplifies the challenge of turning frozen and inhospitable land into livable space or converting lush landscapes into profit and prosperity. To get a better understanding of this process in some of the far reaches of Russia, I turned to two people, Sharyl Corrado and Paul Josephson, to talk about Sakhalin and the Arctic respectively and relationship between Russian imperial expansion and nature, and how environment was imagined and shaped in the process.


Paul Josephson, the author of 13 books, is professor of history at Colby College, Waterville, Maine, and visiting, part-time professor at Tomsk State University.  A historian of big science and technology, he conducted archival research in Arctic regions while working on his monograph, The Conquest of the Russian Arctic.  His most recent book, with Polity Press, is called Chicken: A History from Farmyard to Factory.  He is working now on a global nuclear environmental history.

Sharyl Corrado is Associate Professor of History and History Program Director at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.  She has published articles on the environmental history and historical geography of the imperial Russian Far East in a variety of academic journals in English and Russian. She is also known within Russian Baptist circles for her research on Russian Baptist and Evangelical history, including a monograph published in Russian and an edited volume on East European Baptist History.  She is currently working on an annotated collection of letters written by a Red Cross sister serving in the Sakhalin Penal colony.


Bauhaus, “Slice of Life,” Burning from the Inside.