Beautiful Spaces is an exercise in spatial history and an experiment in narrative mapping. It studies the history of Crimea (the peninsula itself but also the full range of territories claimed by the Giray khans prior to 1783) through a spatial lens, assessing the value of the concepts of space and place, distance and proximity, density and diffusion, as tools of historical analysis.
In broadest terms, the argument here is that place mattered a great deal in Crimea (and in the Russian Empire more broadly) and that spatial structures shaped daily life in significant, discernible ways. Unearthing the traces of those spatial structures requires careful mapping. It requires disaggregation and reaggregation. It requires visualization and narration. It requires active engagement. And it requires a certain tolerance for the fact that history is often cobbled together from a few rough-hewn beams and a pile of ill-mortared stones; incomplete, unsatisfying, and yet deeply compelling.