From the Director

This academic year marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution. To commemorate this important historical event, we were thrilled to partner with a number of organizations across New York city and support their important and creative initiatives. Our postdoctoral research scholar Maria Ratanova coorganized a conference titled, “Agitation for Freedom: Revolution and its Avant-Garde,” planned in conjunction with an exhibition dedicated to the centennial of the Russian Revolution at the International Print Center New York (IPCNY); and Professor Irina Reyfman, together with the curator of Columbia’s Bakhmeteff Archive, Tanya Chebotarev, held a conference, “Two Revolutions and Beyond,” examining the global influence of the two Russian Revolutions. We were also happy to cosponsor a one-day scholarly seminar, “The Russian Revolution: American Perspectives,” with the New York Public Library, and a conference, “Jews in and After the 1917 Revolution,” with the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, the American Jewish Historical Society, the Center for Jewish History, the Genesis Fund, and the Russian American Foundation.

I am excited to announce that the Harriman Institute and Columbia Libraries, have come into the possession of an invaluable resource. The journalist and Senior Carnegie Fellow, Thomas de Waal, has donated a collection of audio files containing all of the interviews he conducted for his first two books—Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus, and Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. These books detail the history and evolution of two conflicts historically overlooked by the international community. Conflicts that offer important lessons about international policy, escalation, and the spread of information. The collection is available from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia Libraries.

I encourage you to stop by our office, or visit our website, for a copy of the Fall 2017 issue of Harriman Magazine, which features an interview with de Waal about his first book. De Waal covered Russia’s first conflict with Chechnya from its inception, and he takes us into the minds of the Kremlin policymakers and Chechen resistance fighters of that time, reminding us just how easily the conflict could have been avoided. You can also listen to an interview with de Waal in the second episode of the Harriman Institute’s new podcast, Expert Opinions – Russia, Eurasia, which launched last spring in partnership with

As you may recall, two years ago we started working with Columbia’s Center for Oral History on an oral history of the Harriman Institute—a series of interviews with some of the Institute’s key actors that will allow us to reconstruct and examine the evolution of the Institute’s history over time. I am happy to announce that the project is in its final stages, and will be available online to the public in the spring of 2018.

Enjoy the holidays and please visit our website for news and details of upcoming events. If you missed an event, you might find a video of it on our YouTube channel. If you aren’t doing so already, please follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with news about our faculty, students and alumni and stay updated on our events, fellowship opportunities and other programs.

We look forward to seeing you around the Harriman Institute!      

Alexander Cooley