I am a historian and sociologist based at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany. My main research interests are in protest and social movements, commemorative practices, and war memorials and military cemeteries. I am particularly interested in unexpected parallels and interconnections between these phenomena, such as structural similarities between protest and commemorative movements. Geographically, my work focuses on the Soviet Union and its successor states and former satellite countries, though I am also interested in transnational connections and comparisons e.g. with Western and South-Eastern Europe and the Global South. My main current projects are on the history of Soviet war memorials; on the past and present of Soviet-style Victory Day celebrations; and on the author of a remarkable history of a small village in South-Eastern Belarus. I am also involved in setting up a new global team of scholars doing comparative research on protest in the BRICS countries.
My approach owes most to Annales-style cultural history and French pragmatism, specifically the sociology of regimes of engagement. My academic training and career has been entirely in programs and institutions (in Oxford, Paris, Moscow, Princeton, and Potsdam) dedicated to interdisciplinarity. Thus I have strong interests in certain interdisciplinary fields (such as memory studies), and equally strong opinions about good and bad forms of multidisciplinary approaches.
Having effectively grown up quadrilingual, I publish regularly in English, French, German, and Russian. I also speak passable Italian, Spanish, and Ukrainian, have a good but largely passive understanding of Belarusian and Polish, and can usually get the gist of texts in most other Romance, Slavic, and Germanic languages. I have also worked with documents in Estonian—one of my ancestral languages—and gained certificates in Japanese, Turkish, and Arabic in my teens and twenties (not to mention five years of Latin and one year of Ancient Greek), but have since lost all but the rudiments of those languages, as well as a few others I have briefly studied.
An avid traveller, I have spent time in every European country as well as various parts of North America, North Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and Australia. When not working in archives or doing ethnographic fieldwork, I am happiest hiking in the Carpathians, Dinarides, Julian Alps, the English Lake District, or on Olkhon Island, or kayaking.
This page is currently being updated and reconstructed. In the meantime, you may want to look at my CV and list of publications using the links at the top of this page.