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Alexandra Vukovich

Université of Oxford
Imperial Imaginaries and Pre-Conquest Narratives of Siberia
11 October 2021 -
06 December 2021

Paris-Oxford Partnership Fellow

Alexandra Vukovich is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, but she will take up the post of assistant professor of Late Medieval History at King’s College London in 2022. Her research explores the late Byzantine world through its cultural sphere, focusing on the eastern Slavonic world, including early Rus and Muscovy. Her particular interests lie in the history of Slavonic chronicles, exploring the role ritual and ceremony in state formation. Her most recent research has expanded to later chronicles and the creation/representation of Steppe peoples from the period Mongol suzerainty in the thirteenth/fourteenth century to the conquest of Siberia by Muscovy in the sixteenth century. Alexandra has held fellowships at the University of Cambridge, the British School at Athens, and the Dumbarton Oaks Research Center and Library of Harvard University.

Research topics

Byzantine History, Slavonic Studies, Medieval Literature, Historiography, Historical Anthropology.

Imperial Imaginaries and Pre-Conquest Narratives of Siberia

The Grand Principality of Moscow or “Muscovy”—referring to an area that would eventually stretch from Western Ukraine to Central Asia in the period before 1700—rose to regional power in the 14th century following the weakening of the Mongol empire. Ivan IV (1533-1584) demonstrated a renewed interest in territorial expansion and methods of governing a vast territory, methods learned in part from their suzerains, the Mongol Khans. The contested area known as the Khanate of Sibir represented a territory beyond the space known as Rus in the medieval period but had been partly integrated into the commercial networks of the northern Eurasian fur trade.

Under the Mongols, the Khanate of Sibir became a prosperous region and the northernmost Muslim khanate of the Mongol Empire. This project represents a departure from the common narrative of the early conquest period; namely, that Muscovy expanded into Siberia following the steady decline of the Mongol Empire, beginning in the 14th century and accelerating in the 16th century. Muscovite texts narrativized the idea of empire, laying out an ideological framework for imperial legitimation, before the material conditions were in place to organise any such venture beyond the territory of Muscovy.

The project seeks to establish a working group comprising scholars of Russian history, Mongol history, linguistics, philology, ethnology, and anthropology, which will form an interdisciplinary base for a European Research Council-funded project.


Key publications

“The Yardsticks by which We Measure Rus” Russian History 46:2-3 (2019): 213-224.

“The 1498 Inauguration of Dimitrii Ivanovich in Moscow: A Byzantine Performance?” in Maria Alessia Rossi and Alice Sullivan (eds.), North of Byzantium, East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450-1450 (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 35-72.

“Le Prince et son épée dans le Rous’ du Nord à la suite de l’exil byzantin de Vsévolod Iourevich” in Élisabeth Yota (ed.), Byzance et ses voisins : XIIIe-XVsiècle (Bern: Peter Lang, 2021), 86-107.


Modern period (1492-1789)