Court ceremonies electrified: technological innovation and Russian imperial power

Speaker: Dr Natalia Nikiforova # Saint-Petersburg Peter the Great Polytechnic University

7th Dec 2015

15:30 - 17:00

Staff Room, 6th floor, Crystal Macmillan Building, George Square, University of Edinburgh

Since the second half of the 19th century, electricity provided spectacular effects at imperial ceremonies and public festivities. The huge potential of electricity as a driving force of change was clear to many. Electric light was the star of the 19th century show, meanwhile electrification of Russian urban spaces and royal palaces developed gradually if not cautiously. Electric illumination started to be an integral part of royal ceremonies, but was not admitted to the living quarters. The talk will explore the history of early electrification in Russia focusing on the electrification of the court culture, and will suggest cultural context of the development of the new technology, revealing tensions and challenges of domestication of the novelty.

Speaker bio:

Natalia Nikiforova is an Assistant Professor at Saint-Petersburg Peter the Great Polytechnic University (Russia), where she teaches courses on Culturology and Cultural History of Technology. Her research interests focus on cultural history of electricity in 19th century Russia, history of technological transfers, history of concepts. Natalia Nikiforova has an account of publications on the history of the concept and idea of technology in Russia and the USA and technology as a means of representation of imperial power in 18th and 19th century Russia. Her research visit to the University of Leeds is supported by the British Council “Researcher Links Programme.”