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Savelli, Dany (2009)
Publisher: Centre d'Etudes Mongoles & Sibériennes / École Pratique des Hautes Études
Languages: French
Types: Article
Subjects: asiatisme, Boukhariote, chinoiserie, Djoungar, Kiakhta, Kjaxtinskij jazyk, Maimacheng, orientalisme, Route du thé, Troitkosavsk, Tsarskoïe Selo, asiatism, Boukhariot, orientalism, Tea Road
Cet article s’ordonne autour d’une réflexion sur la frontière. L’histoire de la triple ville de Kiakhta (celle-ci désignant également Troitskosavsk et Maimaicheng, la ville marchande chinoise) révèle, tout au long des xviiie et xixe siècles, des particularités assez exceptionnelles qui tiennent à sa position aux limites des Empires russe et chinois. La frontière, en ce lieu, a réuni plus qu’elle n’a séparé ; elle s’est animée grâce à un commerce fondé sur le troc et à un trafic d’envergure ; elle a engendré un pidgin à usage des marchands russes et chinois et, phénomène plus singulier, elle a entraîné dans le même temps un décloisonnement social marqué. Fenêtre sur le monde, la « ville des millionnaires », dénommée aussi la « Venise des sables », a été à la fois un lieu de passage des idées révolutionnaires, un avant-poste de l’orientalisme et le centre culturel de la Transbaïkalie. L’évocation de Kiakhta, abordée ici dans une optique occidentale (russe incluse), est l’occasion d’effleurer des débats concernant la mode des chinoiseries en Russie, l’asiatisme russe, le statut de la Sibérie entre Chine et Russie occidentale ainsi que l’historiographie des relations russo-chinoises. This article is a reflection on the question of what is a “frontier.” The history of the three Kiakhtas (this name also designates Troitskosavsk and the Chinese trading town of Maimaicheng) reveals throughout the xviiith and xixth centuries some particularly exceptional features. These were due to the unique position of the city on the border between the Russian and Chinese Empires. As a result of important trading and smuggling activities, which gave rise to a pidgin language between Russian and Chinese merchants and to the vanishing of social barriers, this frontier, which gathers together people and civilizations rather than separates them, became a lively battering hub. A window onto the world, the “Millionnaires’ town,” known as “The Venice of the Desert,” was also an exchange post for revolutionary ideas, an outpost for Orientalism and the cultural centre of Transbaikalia. Engaging with Kiakhta – which is considered here from the point of view of Western culture (including Russia) – is an opportunity to broach various debates: the fashion of chinoiserie in Russia as well as asiatism in that country; the status of Siberia given its proximity to China; and the historiography of Russian-Chinese relations.

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