Yanni Kotsonis

States of Obligation

Taxes and Citizenship in the Russian Empire and Early Soviet Republic

University of Toronto Press 2014

New Books in HistoryNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Russian and Eurasian StudiesNew Books Network August 18, 2016 Amanda Jeanne Swain

I have to admit that I was quite intimidated by a book on taxation in imperial Russia. But States of Obligation: Taxes and Citizenship...

I have to admit that I was quite intimidated by a book on taxation in imperial Russia. But States of Obligation: Taxes and Citizenship in the Russian Empire and Early Soviet Republics (U. of Toronto Press, 2014) is an award winning book so I decided to give it a try. Yanni Kotsonis received the Ed A. Hewett Book Prize for outstanding publication on political economy from the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies and the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize for outstanding scholarly book in a field of history other than Canadian history from the Canadian Historical Association.

Taxation is a dense topic, which Kotsonis makes accessible through an engaging writing style. Drawing on local and regional archives across Russia, Kotsonis argues that taxes are forms of rule and government. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, fiscal reformers in imperial Russia used tax policies and their implementation to redefine the relationship between state and population, to develop concepts of national economies and private sectors, and to build an industry of information gathering crucial to a modern fiscal system.

Yanni Kotsonis is Director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia and Professor of History and Russian Studies at New York University.


Amanda Jeanne Swain is associate director of the Humanities Commons at the University of California, Irvine. She received her PhD in Russian and East European history at the University of Washington. Her research interests include the intersections of national, Soviet and European identities in the Baltic countries. She has published articles in Ab Imperio and Cahiers du Monde Russe. Amanda can be contacted at amandajswain@gmail.com.

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