Cossacks and Sturgeons: Fisheries, Colonization, and Science around the Aral Sea (1873-1906)


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The article addresses the managing of Aral Sea fisheries by the Tsarist administration, and the making of a colonial frontier inhabited by exiled Ural Cossack, Qaraqalpaq, Qazaq, Russian, and Ukrainian fishermen. By comparing the different power relations between Cossacks and the local population on the Ural River and in the Aral Sea region, it shows how they shaped fisheries management regulations and their effectiveness. It also investigates the conditions of production of scientific knowledge on the Aral Sea ecosystem and what role it played in governance decision-making. By drafting a series of fishing regulations and by examining the balance between humans and aquatic animals, scientists oriented the Tsarist government’s decisions on how to manage both the fisheries and the populations that exploited them. At the same time, members of a specific social group, the exiled Ural Cossacks, functioned as mediators between the imperial state and an ecosystem undergoing colonization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-673
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Central Asia
  • Tsarist Empire
  • Environmental history
  • Aral Sea
  • Fisheries
  • Ural Cossacks
  • Kazakhs
  • Karakalpaks
  • fisheries
  • environmental history


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