Ekaterina Pravilova. A Public Empire: Property and the Quest for the Common Good in Imperial Russia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014

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Sergei Antonov




The development of ideas and practices concerning property ownership is one ofthe central and most challenging themes of modern Russian history—and one ofthe most misunderstood, as Ekaterina Pravilova demonstrates in her landmark accountof the culture of property in Russia from the reign of Catherine the Great tothe early twentieth century. Previous histories have disagreed about the effectiveness of property rights in imperial Russia, but virtually all of them have assumedthe absolute worth of individualistic, exclusive private property, which all rightminded Russians were—or should have been—desiring or defending. By contrast, several preeminent American legal historians, upon whose works A Public Empire draws extensively, emphasize the influence of public-minded attitudes to property rights in the supposedly arch-individualistic common law tradition (Rose 1986; Alexander 1997).
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