Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History, Northern Illinois University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2007
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign
An Environmental History of Russian and Soviet Modernization Efforts, 1861-1941

This project will offer an ecological interpretation of modernization efforts in late imperial Russia and the early Soviet Union. It will examine physical landscapes, interactions between humans and the environment, and conceptions of nature in order to enlighten our understanding of Russian and Soviet environmental history during a period of major economic, social, and political change. In order to interrogate how agricultural and industrial projects affected humans and the natural world, this dissertation will entail a comparative case study involving three diverse regions and different branches of economic change in them: forestry in the Moscow Province, animal husbandry in the Orenburg region, and metal and chemical production on the Kola Peninsula. The research will include analysis of geographical scholarship, local newspapers, regional literature, diaries, memoirs, and archival documentation pertaining to each local industry. Through the combination of focusing on material changes in the environment and transformed human/nature interaction and on a cultural examination of different peoples’ understanding of the natural world, this project will point to new ways to think about modernity and modernization. Specifically, an ecological interpretation will scrutinize the impact of the ideology of Russian “backwardness” and compare the treatment of the natural world under different political regimes.