Some worry about the state of Russian studies

Historians in the News
tags: Russia, Ukraine, Crimea



Russia has rarely been on the lips of most Americans, nor was it at the center of academic study after the breakup of the Soviet Union, in 1991, and the end of the Cold War.

"That led to a very hasty disregard of Russia as an important player in the world," says Yana ­Hashamova, director of the Center for Slavic and Eastern European Studies at Ohio State University, a disregard that "has permeated Washington and the media and the general public."

With renewed attention to Russia has come worry about the state of Russian studies. In a recent essay in The Washington Post, "Why America Doesn’t Understand Putin," Angela E. Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University, mourned the decline of the field.

"Instead of embracing a deep understanding of the culture and history of Russia and its neighbors," wrote Ms. Stent, "political science has been taken over by number-crunching and abstract models that bear little relationship to ­real-world politics and foreign policy. Only a very brave or dedicated doctoral student would today become a Russia expert if she or he wants to find academic employment."




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