Document Type

Honors Project


I would like to thank Professor Julia Chadaga for her guidance and support. Her attention to detail and knowledge of Russia made this project possible. Many thanks also go to my two readers, Professor Roopali Phadke and Professor James von Geldern, for agreeing to evaluate the final project and share their insights. I would also like to express my gratitude to Josh Wilson of the School of Russian and Asian Studies and Tatiana Falkovskaya of Irkutsk State University. With their assistance I was able to complete research in Irkutsk that served as inspiration for this project. Lastly, I would like to thank all of my friends and family for their support and suggestions throughout the process.


Lake Baikal has been a source of life with deep spiritual meaning for the peoples of the region. However with the development of human communities around Baikal, the resources of the lake face danger of over-use. In the twentieth century when industrialization posed particular risks to the lake, citizens of the Baikal region rallied to protect their homeland. In so doing, these environmentalists had to work within the political system of the time. This research examines the ways in which environmentalists on Baikal carved out spaces for activism in the face of political turmoil and economic pressures. Tracing the evolution of environmentalism from the 1930s through the present day, this paper focuses on the transition from communism to capitalism from the 1980s to the 1990s. The author argues that this period of transition has created a space for environmentalist movements around Baikal within an international community; at the same time, these movements face real challenges due to a lack of domestic funding and regulation of environmental policies. The contextualization within the politics, economy, and culture of the times discussed in this work reveals the potential opportunities and challenges for civic activists today in Russia and around the world.


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