Curtis Richardson is a historian of Imperial Russia. He completed his Ph.D. in 1999. He has taught at a number of universities and is currently working at Western Governors University. He has published a series of reference works on the post-Soviet space and a number of articles. His research interests include nationalism, gender studies, violence, and civil society in Imperial Russia.
His monograph analyzes domestic abuse, domesticity, and national identity as perceived in familial relations. I am investigating both domestic abuse writ broadly and perceptions of this abuse among Russia’s elite beginning in the eighteenth century to the era of the Great Reforms. Historical analyses of domestic abuse are vital not only for interpreting history, but offer valuable tools for discerning the present, helping to distinguish what is specific about spousal abuse in a given era and offering insight into a given society through the changing interpretations of what it is, how it is defined, what if any limits there are, and why. In this study, I analyze how the tsarist state in this era sought to bring order to the state by imposing and fostering its concept of family life, in particular relations between spouses among the elite, thus bridging early modern and modern history, in tandem with the Orthodox Church, although not always harmoniously with each other. The regulation of family life played a vital role in establishing how the state itself functioned; for example, the family and its hierarchical relations was a vital space in which individuals learned to function in a hierarchical, gendered order.