Kirmse, Stefan B.

New Courts in Late Tsarist Russia: On Imperial Representation and Muslim Participation

This article explores the new circuit courts introduced in late tsarist Russia in the 1860s as an interactive space in which jurists and ordinary subjects of the Empire shaped and experienced state policy. Furthermore, by focusing on Crimea and Kazan, two regions that were home to significant numbers of Muslim Tatars, it considers the court system as a point of entry into the study of imperial rule over ethnic and religious minorities. Discussing the role of Tatars in the new courts and competing visions of imperial society as communicated in the courtroom, the article argues that the new legal system furthered the integration of Tatars into the institutions of the Empire. At the same time, the courts contributed to an increasing differentiation among Muslims (as those in the Steppe region, Central Asia and the Caucasus remained outside the system). The article draws mainly on court records from Kazan and Simferopol (Crimea), newspaper coverage and on the reports and memoirs of jurists.

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