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Professor of History; Director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University

My work studies nationalism and propaganda in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union during the 19th and 20th centuries. My current research project is entitled Communism's Cartoonist: The Extraordinary Lives and Deaths of Boris Efimov. Efimov (1900-2008) was the most significant political caricaturist in Soviet history. His career began in Civil War Ukraine when he was just a teenager before he moved to Moscow in 1922 and worked as a cartoonist for major Soviet publications such as Izvestiia and Krokodil. He continued to draw caricatures for them until the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Efimov, as my biography explains, lived at least four lives and suffered at least three deaths during his 108 years. It is also a biography of the Soviet experiment as well as a history of modern propaganda. Making use of Efimov’s personal archives in Prague and Moscow, I hope to rethink the conventions of the biographical genre and tell a story of not just one person, but an entire century.

In addition to this biography, I am also the co-lead scholar on an NEH-funded project, “Postcards of the Siege.” Using an unparalleled collection of postcards produced during the Siege of Leningrad (1941-44) and held at the Blavatnik Archive in New York City, this project will result in the creation of an immersive website and in-depth look at how propaganda, art, and communication fused together during a time of total war.

Finally, I continue to collaborate on a project entitled “Creative Horizons: Art in the Post-Soviet Era.” Working with colleagues from the Melikian Center at Arizona State University and the Institute for Russian, European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of South Florida, “Creative Horizons” spotlights the work of artists in the former Soviet world. The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has led us to focus on Ukrainian artistic resistance. You can find all the videos produced in the series on the Melikian Center’s website. As part of this project, I have also produced two short videos in collaboration with videographer Ari Gajraj on the Ukrainian author Yevgenia Belorusets and the Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa.


  • –present
    Professor of History; Director of the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University