From the Director

An important aspect of the Harriman Institute’s mission is our focus not only on the post-Soviet region, but also on the experiences of post-Soviet diaspora. Located in New York, we are fortunate to interact with diaspora from all over the region firsthand. In mid-September, we hosted a conversation between Adjunct Assistant Professor Anna Katsnelson, Russian-American radio and TV host Steven Kaplan, and Russian-American artist and activist Rafael Shimunov, about Russian-American attitudes toward the Trump presidency. We will also hold a discussion with authors Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan in October on their new book, The Compatriots: The Brutal and Chaotic History of Russia's Exiles, Émigrés, and Agents Abroad (PublicAffairs, October 2019), which examines the shifting historical role of Russian expatriates and their relationship to their homeland. 

We kicked off the academic year with, Moscow: Gay Cruising Sites of the Soviet Capital, 1920s-1980s, a photography exhibit by Evgenyi Fiks. The photographs shed light on an often-forgotten aspect of Soviet history, and serve as an important reminder of the deeply-rooted nature of challenges faced by Russia’s LGBTQ population today. On September 19, we held a panel discussion about the expansion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative across Eurasia and the risks of conflict and dispute that the promoters of the Initiative might have to address. And on October 7, authors and scholars will discuss various ways of belonging to Ukrainian literature in 2019. 

Meanwhile, the Institute is in the process of tuning its strategic vision and laying the groundwork for its 75th Anniversary (2021-2022). In our interconnected world, the post-Soviet region’s relevance to global issues is ever expanding. In recent years, the Harriman Institute has been proud to participate in global initiatives such as the University Consortium, which brings together six universities in a unique inter-regional academic network that promotes training, research, engagement and policy outreach on Euro-Atlantic issues critical to addressing the crisis in Russia-West relations. We believe that a global approach to regional studies is the only way to strengthen regional knowledge and understanding. 

I’d like to welcome some new additions to the Harriman community this year. Mark Lipovetsky, a leading scholar of Russian and Soviet culture, will be joining Columbia’s Slavic Department from the University of Colorado Boulder. Mark has ambitious plans to start a center devoted to the study of contemporary Russian culture at the Harriman Institute, an endeavor that would greatly enhance our programming. Laszlo Bruszt, a political scientist from the Central European University in Hungary, will be our Istvan Deak visiting professor. And, last but not least, we have six new M.A. students and three incoming postdoctoral research scholars, Daria EzerovaPaula Ganga, and Olena Martynyuk, as well as our returning postdoc Rhiannon Dowling.

I look forward to seeing you around the Harriman this semester and encourage you to sign up for our events list

Alexander Cooley