Native Land Russia: Translating Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, and GIS in the Post-Soviet Classroom

Pavel Vasilyev, HSE University St. Petersburg

Toronto 2021: Justice

This Making & Doing session presents the results of a student project “Native Land Russia” that was carried out at HSE University in 2020-21. The project sought to familiarize the students with the history of indigenous nations and Russian settler colonialism by GIS mapping indigenous territories in Northwestern Russia on the Native Land portal (

The project was organized as part of the project-based learning adopted by HSE University which strives to become the world’s first ‘project university’ by 2030. Native Land Russia was proposed by a group of faculty at the Department of History at HSE University’s St. Petersburg campus. The students were recruited at the so-called Project Fair platform ( In total, 6 BA and MA students representing different disciplines in the social sciences and humanities participated.

Over the academic year, the students independently researched the history of 4 indigenous nations (Ingrian Finns, Izhorians, Karelians, and Votes) in Northwestern Russia, and GIS mapped their territories for the Native Land portal. They also sought to ‘make the map alive’ by adding various audial, visual, and textual sources to it. The session will highlight both the opportunities and challenges of translating Western concepts and methodologies in the post-Soviet educational setting.

Native Land, Russia, indigeneity, settler colonialism, GIS

Published: 01/30/2023