The policy of agrarization of the jewish population of the Russian empire in the XIX century and its results. Ukrainskyi Selianyn

Main Article Content

Olexander T. Bezarov

Abstract

Introduction. In the XIX century the processes of agrarization of the Jews were a characteristic
historical phenomenon only for the countries of Eastern Europe, in particular for the Russian Empire, which is
a certain phenomenon in the history of the Jewish people of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, the policy
of autocracy in general. The modern historiography of the problem, which is presented in the researches of M.
M. Shytiuk, V. V. Shchukin, D. Z. Feldman, D. A. Panov, O. Pachkovskaya, Yu. M. Goncharov, L. V. Kalmina, Ya.
O. Pasyk and D. Meshkov, is analyzed. Despite the general study of the processes of agrarization of the Jewish
population in the Russian Empire, in modern, in particular Ukrainian, historiography, the political aspects of
these processes require further study.
Purpose. To cover the policy of agrarization of the Jews of the Russian Empire; to identify the factors that
infl uenced the Russian government’s attempts to convert a certain part of the country’s Jewish population into
farmers and analyze their consequences in case of Novorossia, Siberia and the western Russian provinces.
Results. The policy of agrarization of the Jewish population in the Russian Empire, carried out by the
autocracy with some breaks during 1804-1866, aimed to encourage the Jews to engage in agricultural activities,
to turn them into farmers (“free grain farmers”) in a way of colonizing the virgin state and landlord lands of the
Russian Empire. If in the fi rst stage (1804-1835) the policy of agrarization of the Jews was characterized by its
uncertainty and some contradictions in solving the problems of the Jewish colonists, in the second one (1835–1866)
the Russian offi cials’ position was pragmatic and partly cynical. The local offi cials were skeptical of the policy
of agrarization of the Jews, did not believe in its success, but due to the efforts of the Minister of State Property
Count P. D. Kiselyov and Novorossiysk Governor-General Count M. V. Vorontsov, the processes of the Jewish
colonization covered a large part of Southwestern Russia until the mid-XIX century. However, after the defeat
in the Crimean War, the public policy priorities changed. There was taken a course to modernize the country.
The processes of agrarization of the Jewish population against the background of the aggravation of the Jewish
question, especially during the reign of Alexander III, became irrelevant. However, even after the offi cial cessation
of the above policy on May 30, 1866, the government made some attempts to resume its long-standing project
and even found understanding among the educated Russian Jews, who believed that a successful experiment to
turn Jews into farmers would contribute to the emancipation of the entire Jewish people in the Russian empire.
In general, in the late XIX century, in the Russian Empire there were no more than 150,000 Jewish colonists who
were directly engaged in various spheres of the agricultural activity. Although more than 160 thousand Jews were
formally recognized as farmers in the Russian Empire.
Conclusion. The policy of agrarization of the Russian Jews proved to be generally successful, although it
was not deprived of certain contradictions, which, for example, were refl ected in the failed project of the Jewish
colonization of Siberia. However, the Russian government’s strategy was clear: to resolve the Jewish question in
a way that would gradually assimilate the Jews, which was associated with long-standing religious prejudices
and perceptions of the Jews as a self-isolated ethnocultural group within the state. The Jews did not show a
special desire to become farmers, even with the persistence of such well-known Russian reformers as Count P.
D. Kiselyov. A lack of experience in agricultural activities, uncertainty of conditions, and most importantly, the
prospects of living in a non-Jewish environment of the colonies deterred many Jews from participating in this
governmental experiment. However, at the time of the cessation of the agrarian policy in 1866 about one hundred
thousand Jewish colonists (3% of the total Jewish population of the Russian Empire) became farmers, mastered an
unusual practice of the socio-economic life, which can certainly be considered a successful government policy. It
is obvious that this result did not satisfy all the ambitions of the Russian reformers. The Jewish colonists preserved
their national and cultural identity. However, in the general context, the policy of agrarization of the Jewish
population of the Russian Empire, and especially its results, proved that the autocracy tried to integrate Jews into
the socio-cultural space of the empire in its domestic policy. And it succeeded, because despite the fact that in
the second half of the XIX century the Russian government pursued a course of modernization that accelerated
the country’s industrialization, the Jewish agricultural colonies in Novorossiysk fl ourished, and the notion of the
Jewish agrarianism became a political argument in the Jewish people’s struggle for their national rights.

Article Details

How to Cite
Bezarov . О. Т. (2021). The policy of agrarization of the jewish population of the Russian empire in the XIX century and its results. Ukrainskyi Selianyn. Ukrainian Peasant, (26). https://doi.org/10.31651/2413-8142-2021-26-Bezarov
Section
Селянство за умов соціокультурних, соціально-економічнихта суспільно-політичних трансформацій ХІХ – ХХ ст
Author Biography

Olexander T. Bezarov, Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University

Doctor of history, associate Professor of the Department of World History, Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi
National University, Chernivtsi, Ukraine
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8467-0647
e-mail: alex.bezarov@gmail.com

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