Ekaterina Pravilova

Rosengarten Chair of Modern and Contemporary History; Professor of History; Acting Director, Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Office Phone
111 Dickinson Hall
Office Hours
Monday: 10:00 am-12:00 pm

A native of St. Petersburg (Russia), Professor Ekaterina Pravilova received her Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She was a research scholar at the Academy of Sciences, and taught history at the European University at St. Petersburg from 2002 to 2006. She joined the faculty at Princeton in the fall of 2006. Her research interests vary greatly, ranging from the development of Russian law, economy and governance, to the study of imperial art and historiography.

Pravilova’s first book Legality and Individual Rights: Administrative Justice in Russia, (2000, in Russian) explores the regimes of governance in the Russian Empire, with a special emphasis on legal relationship between the individual and the Russian absolutist state. Her second book Finances of Empire: Money and Power in Russia’s National Borderlands (2006, in Russian) analyzes budgetary and monetary relations between Russian imperial core and its borderland regions -  Poland, Finland, Turkestan and Transcaucasia.

Pravilova’s third book A Public Empire: Property and the Quest for the Common Good in Imperial Russia (2014) traces the development of Russian property regimes from the time of Catherine the Great through World War I and the revolutions of 1917. This work demonstrates the emergence of a liberal (though not individualistic) vision of society joined to new practices of owning “public things” – rivers, forests, historical monuments, the objects of art and literary masterpieces. This inquiry spotlights a phenomenon that was never fully institutionalized in Russian law but nevertheless existed in rhetoric, politics, and popular imagination – namely, the concept of “public property,” the “res publica,” a world of things to be owned by the public yet managed by the state on the public’s behalf.  A Public Empire received several awards, including George L. Mosse Prize (American Historical Association), Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize (Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies), Historia Nova Prize (Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation and Academic Studies Press).

Pravilova is currently working on two projects. One of them, Imperial epistemology. Knowledge, power and authenticity in Russian politics and culture focuses on the problems of knowledge in Russian social sciences and humanities. Second project Political Money. A history of the Russian ruble (1768-1917) explores the use of money as a means of effecting or blocking fundamental political transformation, first of all - the reform of autocratic political system and the introduction of political representation. This project has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Recent Publications


The Trouble with Authenticity: Backwardness, Imitation, and the Politics of Art in Late Imperial Russia, in The Journal of Modern History. 2018, 90:3, 536-579

Contested Ruins: Nationalism, Emotions, and Archaeology at Armenian Ani, 1892–1918, in Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History and Nationalism in the Post-Soviet Space, 1(2016), 69-101.

The Property of Empire. Islamic Law and Russian Agrarian Policy in Transcaucasia and Turkestan, in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 12, 2 (Spring 2011), 353-86.
Les res publicae russes. Discours sur la propriété publique à la fin de l’Empire, in Annales. Histoire, sciences sociales. mai-juin 2009, n° 3, p. 579-609
River of Empire: Geopolitics, Irrigation, and the Amu Darya in the Late 19th Century in Cahiers d’Asie Central. 2009, n17-18, p.255-287


A Public Empire. Property and the Quest for the Common Good in Imperial Russia (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Finansy Imperii: Dengi i vlast’ v politike Rossii na natsionalnykh okrainakh [Finances of Empire: Money and Power in Russian policy in the imperial borderlands].(Moscow: “Novoe Izdatel’stvo”, 2006, 450 pp.)

Zakonnost’ i prava lichnosti: administrativnaia iustitsija v Rossii, vtoraia polovina 19 veka – Oktiabr’ 1917 [Legality and Individual Rights: Administrative Justice in Russia, second half of the 19th century – October 1917] (St. Petersburg: “Obrazovanie – Kul’tura”, 2000) 300 pp.

Area of Interest
(In alphabetical order)
Economic History
Imperial History
Legal History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
17th & 18th Centuries
19th Century
20th Century
Russia and Eurasia