Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Russia’s Worlds: Soviet Union and the Middle East

This event was held virtually as a Zoom webinar and streamed via YouTube Live.

Please join us for an event in the Russia’s Worlds Lecture Series, a discussion with Sam Hirst (Bilkent University, Ankara) and Masha Kirasirova (NYU Abu Dhabi).


Sam Hirst teaches in Ankara at Bilkent University’s Department of International Relations. His research focuses on Russia, Turkey, and transnational history—in particular, Russia’s and Turkey’s shared legacies of imperial power and their opposition to Western imperialism. Before moving to Bilkent in 2017, he worked at the European University at St. Petersburg, where he served for two years as chair of the history department. He is currently finishing a manuscript on Soviet-Turkish exchange in the interwar period.

Masha Kirasirova is a historian of exchanges between the Soviet Eurasia and the Middle East. Her work approaches modern Middle Eastern history from a “Second World” perspective. It brings together several hitherto separate scholarly domains: Soviet nationalities policy with regard to the USSR’s Muslim populations; social and cultural history of Stalinism in shaping the experience of Arab communists in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s; cultural exchange with Arab leftist intellectuals during the Cold War; and the impacts of these exchanges on artistic bureaucratic and political practices inside the USSR and on those exported to Syria Lebanon Israel/Palestine and Egypt. Kirasirova’s research has been supported by the SSRC InterAsia Eurasia and IDRF programs Mellon/ACLS and IREX as well as a number of university-wide competitive research fellowships at NYU. Her dissertation was awarded the Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize (2015). Before coming to NYUAD she spent a semester as a visiting research fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin.

Russia’s Worlds Lecture Series:

In the last two decades historians have consistently challenged the center-periphery approach to the history of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union at the same time establishing the inadequacy of state boundaries to encompass imperial and Soviet experience. “Russia’s Worlds” brings together innovative work on connections between the Russian Empire the Soviet Union and the outside world looking at how these states their cultures and their subjects interacted with the wider world other states and the international scene based on religion ethnicity ideology and professional affiliations. In this series of six talks twelve speakers working at the intersection of several fields will share new perspectives on how international law migration environment traveling ideas individuals and commodities tied Russia to a larger world and the other way around.

All events at 12:00pm Eastern unless noted otherwise.

October 28, 2020: The Russian Empire and International Law

Peter Holquist (University of Pennsylvania)
Will Smiley (University of New Hampshire)

November 19, 2020: Soviet Union and East Asia

Tatiana Linkhoeva (NYU)
Elizabeth McGuire (California State University, East Bay)

January 21, 2021: Russian Empire and the Ottoman World

Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky (UC Santa Barbara)
Eileen Kane (Connecticut College)

February 18, 2021: Soviet Union and the Middle East

Sam Hirst (Bilkent University, Ankara)
Masha Kirasirova (NYU Abu Dhabi)

March 18, 2021: The Russian and Soviet North Pacific

Bathsheba Demuth (Brown University)
Ilya Vinkovetsky (Simon Fraser University)

May 13, 2021: The Second World War and the Postwar Settlement

2:00pm ET
Michael David-Fox (Georgetown University
Francine Hirsch (University of Wisconsin-Madison)