Geoffrey Durham

Geoffrey Durham

Ph.D. Candidate

My dissertation is, for the time being, entitled "The Standards of Evaluation: Weights, Measures, and the Politics of Building a Russian Imperial Economy, 1775-1857." The project investigates the drive to standardize the units of weight and measurement in the Russian Empire between 1775 and 1857. I begin with Catherine II’s attempts to implement metrological uniformity in order to foster commercial development, and end with the turn to replace Russian units with the metric system. I approach these reforms as technologies of economy- and state-building enacted during a period marked by substantial territorial expansion, the Napoleonic Wars, and the renovation of imperial governance. In analyzing how the non-standardized metrological system functioned, I also explore why an ethos of standardization emerged in these years. Identifying nodes of support for and opposition to the reforms within the broader population is a central concern of my project. Through the reactions of peasants, merchants, landlords, industrialists, academicians, and bureaucrats I endeavor to delineate the consolidation of interest groups along political and economic lines. This project is thus at once a study of the state’s plans to mediate commercial relations and of the people who constituted those relations.


M.A., Russian and East European Studies, Indiana University, 2016
B.A., History, Skidmore College, 2012

Research Interests

Modern Russian and Soviet history; the state; population management; political economy; historical metrology