TSU online resource will show the government ideas of the 16th century
13.02.2020

Historian Sergey Chernyshov has won the HSE University Partnership internship program. He will travel to Perm to study archival documents on the history of Russia in the 16th century and gain experience in digital humanities. By 2022, he will have created an electronic directory where, based on historical documents, a tag cloud in the format of national ideas that the government broadcast at that time will be formed.

The topic of Sergey Chernyshov's internship is “Digital Humanities Technologies for Analysis of the Design of Socio-Political Meanings of the Central Authority during the Accession of Western Siberia to the Russian State”. In total, about 30 applications from employees of Russian universities and research institutes were supported within the University Partnership program, and this is the only application from Tomsk to be selected.

- In my future doctoral dissertation, I will study the history of Russia of the 16-17th centuries. This is the period when many state myths that we take for granted today took shape, for example, “Moscow is the Third Rome”, “Russian Tsars are successors of the Byzantine emperors”, and others. The study is dedicated to just how these state myths developed, what technologies the power used to promote them, why they were needed at all, what problems they solved, - explained Sergey Chernyshov.

According to the historian, the annexation of Siberia is considered one of the examples for the analysis of communication technologies of the Moscow government. For example, if you compare different letters, orders, correspondence, and other texts of Ivan the Terrible, it turns out that he explained the accession of Siberia in different ways to different target audiences. For the internal audience, the idea of protecting Christian civilization from the Muslim threat was used, for the western partners it was the idea that this territory had belonged to Moscow for a long time and in fairness, besides, the legitimate ruler Prince Ediger asked for the accession, and to the eastern partners, it was the idea that succession of power of Ivan the Terrible was promoted by Genghis Khan himself.

In his study, Sergey Chernyshov plans to combine humanities knowledge with information technology. Such an approach gives ample opportunities, first of all, from the computer’s ability to analyze huge data arrays and see connections where a person can no longer manage. The material will be archival documents, and legends, tales, and memoirs of old-timers - the so-called "folk memory".

The result will be an electronic directory in which a cloud of ideas that were transmitted by the central authority of the Russian state of the 16th century will be formed, showing the relationship of the ideas.

- The closest analog is the periodic table, where all the elements are laid out in one understandable system. In the same way, we want to integrate the ideas of state-building into the system, identify the connections, and make this scheme predict the not yet open elements of the matrix. We can say that we want to digitize the national idea of Russia, - said the historian.