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Crimean Tatars in explorative and travel writing: 1782–1802
Anatolian Studies  (IF),  Pub Date : 2017-07-17, DOI: 10.1017/s0066154617000060
Beatrice Teissier

This article discusses the portrayal of Crimea, particularly Crimean Tatars and their culture, through the writings of nine men and women who travelled in the region in the late 18th century. These writers travelled in different capacities and represent a diversity of viewpoints; they include figures of the Russian academic and political establishment and western European travellers, with or without Russian affiliations. The article sets their writings in the context of the imperial Russian rhetoric of conquest associated with the annexation of Crimea in 1783 and Catherine II's tour of the area four years later. This rhetoric remains relevant today through the marked persistence of certain historic tropes in contemporary Russian attitudes towards Crimea. The article also discusses the writers’ responses to Crimea in the light of broader Enlightenment tropes in travel writing and ethnographic observation. It examines the extent to which the travellers’ accounts of Crimea were shaped by notions of ancient Greek heritage, Scythians and ‘Tartar hordes’, attitudes towards the Ottoman Empire (Crimea had previously been an Ottoman protectorate) and Islam, and 18th-century orientalism.