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Personal profile

Research interests

My main research interests since the beginning of my career have centred around the cultural and ideological construction of time and space in Russia since the eighteenth century. This interest emerged out of my first book, which was on Russian travel literature between 1790 and 1840 and my second book, which dealt with the political and social “import” of landscape design in imperial Russia. These two research projects illustrated vividly how the design, perception, and interpretation of space are entangled with ideas about national identity and reflect a specific kind of historical and ideological consciousness. To broaden these concerns, I began to explore the historical consciousness of various social groups from different vantage points, while still retaining a specific interest in the construction of time and space.

I developed three different research strands — on the perception of ruins, on the subjective and cultural dimensions of Europeanization, and on the construction of time. The first led to a book called Architecture of Oblivion: Ruins and Historical Consciousness in Modern Russia (2011), in which I explore the way ruins have been treated and mistreated over the course of Russia’s history and their significance for various communities and subcultures. I continue to be interested in several aspects of urban studies, in particular in view of Moscow’s breath-taking development in recent decades.

The second research strand has led to a collaborative project (with Andrei Zorin) on the self-invention of the Russian elite in the eighteenth-early nineteenth century, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. Here we looked at the hybrid, fluid, and ambivalent emotional and cognitive world of the elite as it rapidly Europeanized itself, while retaining a distinct sense of its Russian identity. This paradigm of self-westernization of a country on the periphery of Europe presents an interesting alternative to the colonial processes that have received much attention in recent scholarship. This project has led to a collective volume and to a co-authored monograph titled On the Periphery of Europe, 1762-1825: The Self-Invention of the Russian Elite (forthcoming 2018). Writing this book strengthened my interest in Transnational Studies, a line of inquiry I am now actively pursuing.

Finally, my interest in the construction of time leads me into my new project, which I provisionally call a History of Russian Time, in which I propose to conceptualize the co-existence of plural temporalities in Russia, as seen in a broad cross-cultural context. 

External positions

Fellow of the British Academy

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