6

Historiography in the Cold War

THE INFLUENCE OF THE HISTORIC WATERS DOCTRINE ON HISTORIOGRAPHY

A side effect of the emphasis on the history of the Northern Sea Route in legal theory was its influence on historiography. Suddenly much more attention was paid to the Soviet interpretation of the exploration of the Northem Sea Route. Whereas Lakhtin had merely asserted that most islands off the Siberian coast had been discovered by Russians, it was now stated that the role of foreigners in the exploration of the route had been grossly exaggerated, for which D'yakonov and Vize were to blame (Lakhtin 1928:23; Belov 1956b:397). The idea of a Northeast Passage had been Russian from the beginning. It had arisen at the end of the sixteenth century. After that the Route had evolved during centuries of exploration by the Russian people. The true discoverers of this Route were the Pomory, the Russians who lived on the coasts of the White Sea. The Route's history was inseparable from Russian history (ibid.: 396). An example of this was the voyage made by Semen Dezhnev, a Russian cossack who had sailed the straits between America and Asia in 1648, long before Bering in 1728.

Dezhnev's voyage was considered by the Soviets to be very important because, to them, he had been the first to prove that America and Asia were separate continents and therefore that the Northeast Passage might exist. In 1948 a special session of the Geographical Society commemorated the voyage that had taken place 300 years before. Nevertheless, at the time Dezhnev's trip had remained unknown and an account of it had been found only much later, so the effect of that voyage on actual exploration was not very great. In fact, when Nordenskiöld first sailed the Passage with the Vega in 1879, he could not rely on any definite knowledge among the Pomory. This makes it clear that the role of the Pomory in exploring the Passage was, in historical respects, most limited. This certainly undermines the idea of a history of Russian exploration stretching back continuously for several centuries (Nordenskiöld 1882: vol. I, 26).

-84-

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The Soviet Arctic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Russian Policy in the Far North 1897-1917 6
  • 2 - Soviet Sovereignty in the Arctic and the Advent of Flying 1917-32 21
  • 3 - The Stalinization of Arctic Exploration 35
  • 4 - In Stalin's Time 1932-53 53
  • 5 - Arctic Policy During the Cold War 67
  • 6 - Historiography in the Cold War 84
  • 7 - The Age of the Nuclear Submarine 109
  • 8 - Arctic Shipping Since 1953 120
  • 9 - The Western Section: Winter Navigation 127
  • 10 - The Season of 1983 139
  • 11 - Arctic Studies Since 1953 152
  • Conclusion 170
  • Appendix 175
  • Glossary 179
  • Bibliography 181
  • Index 222
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