Photograph of Ivan Kurilla

The Cornille Lecture: Ivan Kurilla
Political Use and Misuse of the Past in Russia, America, and Elsewhere

4/30/2024 5 PM
Newhouse Center Lounge
Free and open to the public

In our lifetime, history has transformed from an academic pursuit or enjoyable reading into a powerful political instrument. Activists worldwide vandalize and destroy monuments to past heroes, differing historical interpretations fuel domestic and international conflicts, and Russian President Vladimir Putin even justified his decision to attack Ukraine with a lengthy history lecture. 

In the 2023-2024 Mary L. Cornille Lecture, Distinguished Visiting Professor Ivan Kurilla will delve into the roots of this newfound obsession with history, linking it to the crisis facing large nation-states striving to maintain control over their historical narratives. These narratives were once a key tool for nation-building but are now being challenged by new actors seeking to reclaim their history and agency. 

Ivan Kurilla is the 2023-2024 Mary L. Cornille Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities at Wellesley College. Previously, he taught at the European University at St. Petersburg and Volgograd State University. He has also conducted research at Dartmouth College (as a Fulbright Scholar) and at George Washington University. 

Professor Kurilla's most recent publications (edited in English) include Trailing the Bolsheviki: Twelve Thousand Miles with the Allies in Siberia (Slavica, 2020); and Russian/Soviet Studies in the United States, Amerikanistika in Russia: Mutual Representations in Academic Projects (Lexington, 2016). His most recent Russian-language publications include Amerikantsy i vse ostalnye: Istoki i smysl vneshney politiki SShA ("Americans and all the rest: Origin and meaning of the U.S. foreign policiy) (Alpina, 2024); and Bitva za proshloe: Kak politika menyaet istoriyu ("Battle for the Past: How Politics Changes History"), (Alpina, 2022). 

A book on the history of U.S.-Russian relations, coauthored with David S. Foglesong (Rutgers) and Victoria I. Zhuravleva (RSUH), is currently under review by a major publisher. 

This event will be livestreamed at No prior registration is required to view the livestream.

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