Rhiannon Dowling

Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Columbia University
12th Floor, International Affairs Building
212 854-4623
Rhiannon Dowling is a Modern European historian specializing in the history of Russia and the Soviet Union. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in May 2017. 
Her book manuscript, “The Soviet War on Crime: The Criminal in Society, 1953-1991” places the problem of crime at the center of late Soviet life. Telling the story of the Soviet “War on Crime” of the 1960s and 1970s, she shows that what started during the “thaw” as an earnest effort to discover the roots of criminality, instead revealed to the broader public a culture of corruption that permeated the state from root to branch. Further, she shows that grassroots efforts to battle corruption which we tend to associate with Gorbachev and his era, actually began in the Brezhnev era, laying the groundwork for many of the most important and surprising elements of perestroika and glasnost.
At the Harriman Institute, Dowling will be completing her book manuscript, as well as a companion article about one of the first publicly acknowledged Soviet serial killers, whose trial in 1964 exposed the limits of Khrushchev’s campaign for public participation in police and judicial work. She will also be researching her second book project on children’s colonies in Soviet Russia and Ukraine, exploring the parallel development of Soviet pedagogical and penal practices. She will be teaching courses on Russian and Soviet history and the problem of crime. 
Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. She has published articles in the journal Aspasia: International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women’s History on the role of popular film in Soviet and U.S. Cold War propaganda campaigns, and in the journal Russian History, adapting a chapter of her dissertation into an article on gender and mass participation in the Soviet justice system during the Brezhnev era.