From the Director

October 1, 2018

When I first stepped into my role as director of the Harriman Institute in 2015, I felt strongly that it was time to formally preserve our institutional memory and examine the Harriman’s evolving roles in the university and the world at large. Together with Columbia’s Center for Oral History, we embarked on our oral history project—a series of interviews with some of the Institute’s key actors. I am happy to report that “Cold Wars and the Academy: An Oral History on Russian and Eurasian Studies,” comprised of 26 interviews, will officially launch in late October. You can read about the genesis of the oral history project, along with three contributing narrators to the project (Grace Kennan, Colette Shulman, and Alexander Motyl) in the fall issue of Harriman Magazine.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our new MARS students, postdocs, visiting scholars and faculty. Our new postdoctoral research fellows Rhiannon Dowling (Ph.D., Univ. California, Berkeley, ’17), who wrote her Ph.D. thesis on “The Soviet War on Crime: The Criminal in Society, 1953-91,” and Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky (Ph.D., Stanford, ’18), who is an historian of the modern Middle East and Ottoman Empire, with a focus on transnational migration, join returning postdocs Markian Dobczansky, Yana Gorokhovskaia, and Martin Martinos. Stephan Sander-Faes, whose work focuses on Central and Southeastern Europe throughout the early modern and modern period, is our Istvan Deak Visiting Professor for the fall semester. Sander-Faes, who is currently working on a book manuscript focused on “Lordship and State Formation” in the early modern Austrian monarchy, is teaching two classes this semester: Rise of the Modern State; and Austria in the 19th Century.

As usual, the Harriman calendar is chock-a-block with events that represent the full spectrum of the Institute’s research interests. But if we focus on the literature side for just a moment, the fall lineup is really quite remarkable, with readings by leading writers from Poland, Ukraine and former Yugoslavia: Olga Tokarczuk, Yuri Andrukhovych and Dubravka Ugrešić. Not to mention a book launch for Oxford University’s new History of Russian Literature, co-authored by Irina Reyfman (Columbia) and Mark Lipovetsky (currently at Colorado-Boulder, but soon to join the Columbia Slavic Department), along with colleagues from Harvard and Oxford; a conference devoted to Chinghiz Aitmatov; and a book launch for A Terrible Country, by our colleague in the Journalism School, Keith Gessen. 

This is in addition to the great programming in the social sciences we sponsor every year at the Harriman Institute. I encourage you to sign up for our events list to keep abreast of everything that is happening. 

I look forward to seeing you at the Harriman Institute this year!


Alexander Cooley