Johannes Remy. Higher Education and National Identity: Polish Student Activism in Russia, 1832-1863. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2000. Pp. 380.

In the wake of the 1830-1831 Polish uprising, the Russian authorities closed all Polish institutes of higher learning. Thousands of young Poles, therefore, travelled to Russia to study at the Universities of Kiev, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Dorpat as well as the Medical Academies of Wilno and St. Petersburg. Grounded in solid and meticulous archival research, this book investigates the political activism of these Polish students, who brought with them the traditions of patriotic student conspiracies. It does it within the broader context of the governmental educational and nationality policies, as administered by ministers of public enlightenment, procurators, and Tsar Nicholas I’s Third Section, as well as Polish society and the national movement and ideas that circulated in Poland. The book’s roots as a Licenciate’s dissertation at the Academy of Finland are reflected in the author’s extraordinarily detailed narrative. A more condensed text, indeed, would have been welcome!

In his conclusion, Remy briefly summarizes the main points of his study: 1) from the 1830s to the beginning of the 1860s, the number of Poles at Russian universities increased constantly; 2) the great majority of them came from the Western Provinces, not the Kingdom of Poland, and belonged to the nobility; 3) Polish Messianism, Polish Hegelianism, and the traditions of the Polish national movement (in particular, the need for self-sacrifice in the national cause) deeply inspired the Polish students; 4) not unexpectedly in an age that witnessed the flourishing of nationalism, the aim of student activism was the restoration of Polish independence; 5) the attitude of Polish students towards their fellow Russian students was primarily one of isolation a trend strengthened by their conviction of the superiority of their own culture vis- -vis the Russian one; 6) though the Russian government always saw education as a tool of Russification, its policy changed over the course of these three decades, alternating between suspicion, leniency, and repression.

The book is well written and includes an excellent bibliography; a few illustrations, though, would have enlivened the text. This workmanlike study will interest historians who specialize in the fields of education and nationalism.

J.-Guy Lalande
St. Francis Xavier University