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Environment and History

'The Land is Spoiled By Water': Cossack Colonisation in the North Caucasus

Thomas M. Barrett

Environment and History 5(1999): 27-52

A frontier environmental history of Cossack settlers in the North Caucasus reveals some of the weaknesses of the Russian imperial mission. Cossacks transformed the landscape of settlement through deforestation and canalisation; the resulting floods and disease regime put severe limits on their ability to be economic colonisers or cultural assimilators. In many respects, the land proved to be a tougher enemy than the mountain people whom they were sent to conquer.

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