Vladimir Bobrovnikov


Professor, Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg


Vladimir Bobrovnikov is historian of ex-colonial borderlands in Tsarist and Soviet Russia. He specialises in the history of rural non-Christian populations from the late eighteenth through the twentieth century. His major field of expertise is Islam in Russia, the Caucasus, as well as the history of Oriental studies in Europe.

Bobrovnikov studied in mediaeval and modern history as well as in Islamic and Oriental studies at Moscow State University and at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. In December 1993 he defended his Ph.D. Dissertation in History and Oriental Studies under the title: Tradition and Modernity in the Mentality of the North African Peasants in the Modern Times. A monograph written on its basis was published in Russian in 1998. Since 2009, Bobrovnikov manages the Caucasus Chair at the Central Eurasia Research Centre of the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies. Before coming to HSE in St. Petersburg, he was in 2017–18 a Fellow at Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS-KNAW) in Amsterdam.

His current research activity deals with the Deconstruction of Shari‘a Justice in Russia’s North Caucasus, 1860s–1920s: Practices, Networks, Actors, from a Post-Colonial Prospect. It questions the hegemonic frameworks of interpretation of the collision between Shari‘a, Islamic and non-Islamic customary law, and the preposition that Russian colonial officers and Muslim legal practitioners were ignorant of what happened in other parts of the colonized world. His other interests include the transformation of Muslim village communities in the context of colonial and postcolonial modernisations; the history and anthropology of hybrid religious and legal practices; the comparative analysis of (post)colonial transfers in Oriental, especially Islamic studies in the Caucasus, French North Africa and Dutch Indonesia.

Bobrovnikov is a member of the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies (EURAMES, London, since 2000), the CASCADE Caucasus network (Paris, since 2016), the Society of Russia’s Orientologists (Moscow, since 2004), the Free Historical Society (since 2014) and the NIAS Fellows Association (from 2018). He serves on the Editorial Board of the Russian academic journals Etnograficheskoe obozrenie [‘Ethnographic Panorama’] and Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom [‘State, Religion and the Church in Russia and Worldwide’].

Publications related to the project’s theme

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Inventing a New Legal Tradition: The Discourse of “Traditional Islam” in Post-Communist Dagestan’, in R. Bekkin, ed., The Concept of ‘Traditional Islam’ in Modern Islamic Discourse in Russia, Sarajevo: Center for Advanced Studies, 2020: 233–54

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, Ahmet Yarlykapov, ‘Nogaiskie Epitafii Severnogo Dagestana’ [Noghay Epitaphs of Northern Daghestan], Voprosy Epigrafiki 2019/10: 85–138 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Kulturnaia Pamiat’ Islamizatsii u Musul’man Dagestana’ [The Cultural Memory of Islamisation among Daghestani Muslims], Tsentral’naia Evraziia 2019/1: 43–79 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Abu Muslim v Kul’turnoi Pamiati Musul’man Dagestana’ [Abu-Muslim in the Cultural Memory of Dagestani Muslims], Islam v Sovremennom Mire 15/3 (2019): 81–110 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Paradoksy Izucheniia Sovremennogo Islama v Rossii’ [The Paradoxes of Current Islamic Studies in Russia]’, Gosudarstvo, Religiia, Tserkov’ v Rossii i za Rubezhom 1 (2018): 310–22 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Applied Oriental Studies of Russiaʾs Own Islam: From Orthodox Missionaries to Militant Godless and Wahhabis’, Insight Turkey 20/4 (2018): 249–70

Alikber Alikberov, Alfrid Bustanov, Vladimir Bobrovnikov, Michael Kemper, Rossiiskii Islam: Ocherki Istorii i Kul’tury [Russia’s Islam: Studies on History and Culture], Moscow: Institut Vostokovedeniia, 2019 (1st ed. 2018, in Russian)

Vladimir Koreniako, Vladimir Bobrovnikov, eds., Syntaslar: Nadmogil’nye Stely Nogaiskoi Stepi [Syntaslar: Funeral Steles of the Noghay Steppe], Moscow: Marjani, 2016 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Withering Heights: The Re-Islamization of a Kolkhoz Village in Dagestan, a Micro-History’, in S. A. Dudoignon & C. Noack, eds., Allah’s Kolkhozes: Migration, De-Stalinisation, Privatisation, and the New Muslim Congregations in the Soviet Realm (1950s–2000s), Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 2014: 367–97

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Gibridnaia Religioznost’ v Kul’te Sviatykh u Musul’man Iuzhnogo Dagestana: Rutul’skii Sluchai’ [Hybrid Religiosity in the Cult of Saints among South Dagestani Muslims: the Rutul Case’], in E. Larina, ed., Vostokovedcheskie Issledovaniia na Postsovetskom Prostranstve: Sbornik Nauchnykh Statei v Pamiati Professora Sergeia Petrovicha Poliakova, Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Moskovskogo Universiteta, 2014: 122–35 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Rossiiskii Postsovetskii Islam v Vostokovedenii i Etnografii: Podkhody i Problemy’ [Post-Soviet Russia’s Islam in Oriental Studies and Ethnography: Approaches and Issues], in Islam v Mul’tikul’turnom Mire: I Kazanskii Mezhdunarodnyi Nauchnyi Forum, Kazan: Povol’zhskii Federal’nyi Universitet, 2012: 156–68 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘The Contribution of Oriental Scholarship to the Soviet Anti-Islamic Discourse: From the Militant Godless to the Knowledge Society’, in M. Kemper & S. Conermann, eds., The Heritage of Soviet Oriental Studies, London – New York: Routledge, 2011: 66–85

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘“Ordinary Wahhabism” vs. “Ordinary Sufism”? Filming Islam for Post-Soviet Muslim Young People’, Religion, State and Society 39/2–3 (2011): 281–301

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘From Collective Farm to Islamic Museum? Deconstructing the Narrative of Highlander Traditions in Dagestan’, in F. Mühlfried & S. Sokolovsky, eds., Exploring the Edge of Empire: Socialist Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Berlin et al.: LIT, 2011: 99–117

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Arabskaia Epigrafika XVI–XX vv. ob Islamizatsii Gortsev Severnogo Dagestana [The Arabic Epigraphy from the 16th to 20th Centuries on the Islamisation of the Highlanders of North Daghestan]’, Voprosy Epigrafiki 2008/2: 44–67 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘The “Islamic Revival” in Daghestan, Twenty Years Later’, Central Asia and the Caucasus 44 (2007): 142–52

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Soveticum vs. islamicum? Nekotorye itogi i perspektivy izucheniia islama v sovremennoi Rossii [Soveticum vs. islamicum? Some Conclusions and Perspectives for the Study of Islam in Modern-Day Russia]’, Vestnik Evrazii 2007/3: 8–21 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘The Islamic Revival in a Daghestani Kolkhoz: Between Local Traditions and External Influences’, in B. Balci & R. Motika, eds., Religion et Politique dans le Caucase Post-Soviétique, Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 2007: 163–82

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘“Malyi Dagestan” pod Stambulom: Dagestanskie Sufii i Sviatye Mesta v Turtsii [Small Dagestan near Istanbul: Daghestani Sufis and Holy Places in Turkey]’, in I. Zaytsev, S. Oreshkova, eds., Turcica et ottomanica: Sbornik statei k 70-letiiu Professora M. S. Meiera, Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura, 2006: 150–63 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘“Traditionalist” Versus “Islamist” Identities in a Daghestani Collective Farm’, Central Asian Survey 25/3 (2006): 287–302

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Abu Muslim in Islamic History and Mythology of the Northern Caucasus’, in M. Gammer & D. J. Wasserstein, eds., Daghestan and the World of Islam, Helsinki: Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 2006: 23–44

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Die Wahhabiten im Nordkaukasus: Ängste und Realitäten’, Kultura: Russland Kulturanalysen 9 (2006): 21–23

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Les Lieux Saints des Clans Routouls: Pratiques Religieuses Hybrides chez les Musulmans Daghestanais’, Revue d’Études Comparatives Est-Ouest 36/4 (2005): 157–83

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Arkheologiia stroitel’stva islamskikh traditsii v dagestanskom kolkhoze [Archaeology of Building of the Islamic Traditions in a Dagestani Kolkhoz]’, Ab imperio 3 (2004): 563–93 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Kul’t Abu Muslima v Dagestane: istoricheskaia pamiat’ o geroiakh i periodakh islamizatsii regiona [The Veneration of Abu-Muslim in Dagestan: The Cultural Memory of Heroes and Periods of the Region’s Islamisation]’, Religiovedenie 4 (2003): 41–53 (in Russian)

Sergei Abashin, Vladimir Bobrovnikov, eds., Podvizhniki islama (kul’t sviatykh i sufizm v Srednei Azii i na Kavkaze) [Devotees of Islam: The Cult of Saints and Sufism in Central Asia and the Caucasus], Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura, 2003 (in Russian)

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘Post-Socialist Forms of Islam: The North Caucasian Wahhabis’, ISIM Newsletter 7 (2001): 29

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, ‘The Islamic Revival and the National Question in Post-Soviet Daghestan’, Religion, State and Society 24/2 (1996): 233–38

Vladimir Bobrovnikov, Ramazan Ramazanov, ‘Sviatye-chudotvortsy v narodnom islame Iuzhnogo Dagestana (na materialakh aula Shinaz)’ [Thaumaturge Saints in the popular Islam of Southern Dagestan (through Data from the Village of Shinaz)]’, in T. Sivertseva, M. Roshchin, V. Bobrovnikov, eds., Dagesan: Selo Khushtada, Moscow: Institut vostokovedeniia, 1995: 132–44 (in Russian)

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