I graduated from St. Lawrence University in December 2007 with a BA in History and Global studies. My interest in Russian studies originated right at home where I was raised in a Russian-speaking environment thanks to my grandparents, World War 2 refugees from Leningrad. I began to pursue my interest in high school by reading literature dealing with life in the Soviet era and learning to read cyrillic. Later, during my tenure at St. Lawrence, I developed my interest by seriously studying the language and delving into both imperial and Soviet Russian history. During my junior year I undertook a research project in a relatively obscure field in Western scholarship, Soviet oriental studies, examining the repression of Islamic, and in particlar orientalist scholars throughtout different periods of Soviet rule. This project was partly inspired by my advisor in the history department, Dr. Michael Kemper, a specialist on Muslim culture in Russia and Central Asia.
My current research is closely linked to this previous theme, except that now I am primarily interested in the reemergence of Islamic practices in the public sphere in the Russian Federation in the post-Soviet period. Its seems that for some who beleived in commmunism and its codex of morality are finding refuge in organized relgion. Islam has made huge strides in terms of popularity and influence especially in historically Muslim areas such as Tatarstan where people are rediscovering their faith and learning about the traditions of their ancestors. I will be analyzing Islamic periodicals and educational materials intended for youth as well as interviewing major publishing houses in order to map out the current trends in Islamic practice and interpretation.
During my time in Kazan in 2008-2009, the Fulbright fellowship will give me the chance to study at Kazan State University which is the cultural and commercial capital of Tatarstan. I will be working closely with my academic advisor Dilara Mirkasimovna Usmanova, a faculty member in the department of history, as well as taking classes and conducting interviews with Islamic publishing houses. My goal is to interact as much as possible with both locals and with influential people in Islamic institutions, compare this with what's being published to get a general idea of the current perception of Islam and the role it plays for Muslims in modern-day European Russia.
Besides academic interests, I am an avid skier and like to consider myself a photographer. During the bitterly cold Russian winter I hope to warm up by hitting the slopes at least once or twice in the Ural mountain range.