Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1991
At Rutgers since 1991
U.S. foreign policy, American-Russian relations, religion, missionaries, propaganda, military occupations, national identity. Currently working on a history of U.S. experiences with “nation building” since 1898 and (in collaboration with two Russian historians) a history of American-Russian relations since 1776.
As Ukraine war intensifies, some Russian speakers far from Moscow are feeling hostility
...widespread anti-Russia sentiment in the United States dates back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when worsening czarist political repression and anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia combined to trigger what he called the first American crusade for Russian freedom.
Americans were encouraged to sympathize with the people of Russia rather than the government. And that seems to me to be what is really different from what we’re seeing now, where you see people at protests with signs saying all Russians are to blame for Putin’s aggression...
But even then, when tensions were at their highest and many feared a nuclear war in the early 1980s, Americans and Soviets were working to overcome those tensions.
That’s what I would point to as an inspiration for how we should be thinking — about trying to build connections outside of the Russian government, to the Russian people. And instead of terminating cultural exchanges and person-to-person contacts, we should be seeking to maintain them...
April 02, 2020
Between 1985 and 1989 hundreds of Soviet citizens came to the United States in projects initiated by American activists who feared nuclear war and hoped to improve relations with the USSR. This ambitious citizen diplomacy led to hundreds of thousands of encounters between Soviet visitors and Americans that shattered negative stereotypes. Since the Soviet visitors received extensive media coverage, the programs had broad impacts on attitudes in many American towns and cities. As a result, ‘the Cold War’ ended in the hearts and minds of many Americans long before the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
HOW CITIZENS HELPED TO END THE COLD WAR: INSPIRATION FOR TODAY
June 1, 2018
Thirty years ago, when Ronald Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow and said that he no longer considered the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” many observers began declaring that the Cold War was over. While the important roles of Reagan and Gorbachev in the ending of Soviet-American enmity are widely remembered, it is often forgotten that Soviet and American citizens played active roles in overcoming the suspicion and hostility that had marred relations between the two countries for decades. Today, when American-Russian relations have deteriorated so badly that many now speak of a “new cold war,” it is important to remember how citizens made a difference in the ending of the old Cold War.