- 206 685-8192
- 423 Thomson
I am a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union. Over the course of my career, I have become increasingly interested in the USSR’s involvement in transnational movements and processes, whether political, social, cultural, or economic. I have also pursued research interests in the history of Communism and world history. In addition to the books mentioned below, I’ve published articles on a number of topics in Soviet social and political history.
My first book, Power and the Sacred in Revolutionary Russia: Religious Activists in the Village (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997), examined the Bolshevik project of cultural transformation through a case study of peasants’ responses to the Soviet anti-religious campaign. In 1999, the book was awarded Honorable Mention for the Hans Rosenhaupt Memorial Book Prize from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
In 2011, I published The Communist Experience in the Twentieth Century: A Global History through Sources (Oxford University Press. Through a collection of carefully selected documents, some presented for the first time in English translation, the book seeks to provide an inside look at how people around the world subjectively experienced, and contributed to, global communism.
My current book project is entitled Refugee Worlds: The Spanish Civil War, Soviet Socialism, Franco’s Spain, and Memory Politics. The general questions that frame the project are the following: what were the global consequences of the transnational lives set in motion by the defeat of the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)? How do civil wars, and the refugee movements they propel, transform domestic polities, international systems, and transnational institutions? To address these issues, I examine the “refugee worlds” of the nearly 5000 child refugees, political exiles, and other Spaniards who fled to the USSR during or shortly after the Spanish Civil War. By “refugee worlds,” I mean the political, social, economic and cultural conjunctures that they imported in displacement, the unfamiliar societies in which they found themselves, and the new structures they helped to create.
Mapping these partially overlapping worlds requires attention to the distinct and sometimes intersecting path of Spanish Civil War refugees: to the different fates of the children (niños) who at first resided in 22 well-appointed state-run homes, to the odyssey through the Gulag of some Spaniards, to the political careers of Communist party leaders, to the repatriation of some Spaniards in the mid- to late-1950s, and to the posting of about 200 to Cuba in the early 1960s as Castro’s advisors. Through this careful reconstruction, my project seeks to make original contributions to the historiography of Soviet Union (Soviet dialogue with Western modernities, the cult of World War II, de-Stalinization), to historiography of the Franco and post-Franco eras (state repression, development of civil society, evolution of citizenship), to global communism and anti-communism (Spain’s role in the Cold War and Soviet aid in the Cuban revolution), twentieth-century European and world history (the role of international relief and advocacy organizations), to refugee studies (contingent production of a “refugee” identity), and to history and memory (the role of transnational organizations and advocacy networks). Thus far, I’ve conducted archival research for this project in the Russian Federation, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. I have interviewed former Spanish Civil War exiles, or their children, in Madrid and Moscow.