The Herbert J Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies (REECAS)

The Ellison Center is an endowed, leading resource center which promotes in-depth interdisciplinary study of the many post-communist subregions.  Through our research and programs, we seek to understand the legacies of the imperial and communist past and analyze the emerging institutions and identities that will shape Eurasia’s future from Vienna to Vladivostok. This mission, which flows from Professor Herbert Ellison’s commitment to building sustainable connections with the diverse peoples of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, is strongly supported by the UW administration.

Long known only as the REECAS Center, the Herbert J. Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies was christened as such in 2004 to honor Dr. Ellison’s legacy with the generous financial support of the Ellison family and other program supporters.

As its long name indicates, the Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies region is expansive and diverse, counting 29 countries. REECAS countries include the following: Albania, Armenia. Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

The Ellison Center offers Undergraduate Minor as well as a Master’s Degree in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies. We also offer an Accelerated REECAS MA to US Military Foreign Area Officers (FAOs). We sponsor lectures, conferences and exchanges covering the entirety of Eastern Europe and Eurasia; and we sustain a dynamic program of outreach to local schools, colleges and community organizations interested in our region. With over 60 participating UW faculty, the Ellison Center represents a unique intellectual resource for faculty, students and professionals living in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Professor Ellison served as a mentor to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students over 40 years. Instilling in them a love for the people and regions of the former Soviet Union and communist Europe, he devoted his career to the belief that educational exchange programs open doors and minds for all citizens of the world, and especially for those who long suffered behind the Iron Curtain.

Now, with public interest in Russia, East Europe and Central Asia higher than any time since the Soviet Union’s demise, the Ellison Center supports innovative research, student programs and community outreach to promote learning about this region of the world and carry on Herb Ellison’s legacy.

The Ellison Center is housed in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. See more about the Jackson School here, and Senator Henry M. Jackson here.


Professor Elena Campbell

Elena CampbellMy teaching and research interests focus on the history of empire, nationalism, and religion in late tsarist Russia.

I completed my graduate work at the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg (Russia). Prior to taking a position at the University of Washington, I taught at the European University at St. Petersburg, the University of Michigan, and Harvard University.

At the University of Washington, I teach undergraduate courses on the History of Imperial Russia from 1700 to 1917, the History of St. Petersburg/Leningrad from 1703 to the present, Russian History through Biography,  Empire and Nationalism in Tsarist Russia, Arctic Histories, and History and Memory. I offer graduate seminars on the historiography and primary sources of imperial Russia, and on Empire and Nationalism in Russian history.

My first book – The Muslim Question and Russian Imperial Governance (Indiana University press, 2015) – examines how imperial Russia dealt with its Muslim subjects in the late 19th and early 20th century as growing nationalism was transforming the empire’s relationship with its many different ethnic and religious communities. I use what was historically known as the “Muslim Question,”in Russian, “Musul’manskii vopros” ? as a prism through which to explore Russia’s complex imperial relations and changing political culture in late 19th and early 20th centuries.

My next book project takes the study of the Russian imperial experience into a new direction. By linking histories of politics, economics, environment, science, and culture, my project seeks to explore the creation of the modern Russian North during the late imperial period.

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