Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Russia’s Worlds: The Second World War and the Postwar Settlement

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

Please join us for the final event in the Russia’s Worlds Lecture Series, a discussion with Michael David-Fox (Georgetown University) and Francine Hirsch (University of Wisconsin-Madison) on their recent work relating to the international dynamics facing the Soviet Union in the Second World War and the Postwar Settlement, both on Soviet territory and abroad.


Michael David-Fox is a historian of modern Russia and the USSR and a professor at Georgetown University, whose work has ranged from cultural and political history to transnational studies and modernity theory. At the outset of his career, he became one of the first foreign researchers to work in formerly closed Communist Party archives during the collapse of the Soviet Union. He went on to become a founding editor of Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. He is the author of Revolution of the Mind: Higher Learning among the Bolsheviks, 1918-1929 (1997); Showcasing the Great Experiment: Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union, 1921-1941 (2012); Crossing Borders: Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union (2015). His current book project, “Crucibles of Power: Smolensk Under Nazi and Soviet Rule,” interprets the levels (local, regional, and central) on which power was wielded in Smolensk oblast in the 1930s and the 1940s, and analyzes the many dimensions of power, aiming squarely at the place where local and regional history meets the grand narrative. The work argues that the sudden imposition of German rule in 1941-1943 provides a kind of laboratory for the historian for studying power relations. The book cross-fertilizes three rapidly evolving fields: the study of Stalinism, German occupation on the Eastern Front during World War II, and the Holocaust.

Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the American Historical Association (as well as several other awards) for her first book, Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (2005). Her second book, Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II (2020) presents the first complete history of the Nuremberg Trials. Drawing on thousands of documents from the former Soviet archives, it reveals the unexpected contribution of Stalin’s Soviet Union to the International Military Tribunal and to the postwar development of international law. Her current book project centers on the history of Russian-American relations through the perspectives of economics, culture, science, and international law.

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)

Event Video